The implementation of stewardship of creation in global bioethics
AbstractThe ethical and religious idea of stewardship of creation posits that human beings should act as responsible caretakers of the world and its resources without exerting blind dominion. By drawing our attention to the human responsibilities towards creation, this idea is an important value to fight overconsumption of the earth which has been shown to contribute to climate change. Given the urgency created by climate change, it is imperative to consider how this idea can be given more leverage in various fields of human activity, such as healthcare. Although the idea of stewardship has been applied in healthcare ethics, the application could be more encompassing, and the idea would deserve more attention in prominent bioethical discourses which strongly focus on the autonomous individual and by doing so largely fail to emphasize the connectedness of the individual with the rest of creation. Thus, there is a need for models in healthcare ethics through which the idea of stewardship can be broadly implemented. In this presentation, I argue based on a critical analysis of the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights that this declaration incorporates the ideal of stewardship, and, for that reason, is a very pertinent approach to ethical issues in healthcare in this era of climate change. The various articles of the declaration support the development of sustainable healthcare policies and stimulate people to consider the possible wide impact of ethical decisions in healthcare. In this regard, the declaration explicitly mentions protection of future generations and the environment. By connecting this with important principles such as responsibility, human vulnerability, equality, and justice, the declaration embodies stewardship. Therefore, in this era of climate change this declaration should receive broader attention in bioethical discussions and the assessment of ethical issues in healthcare.
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