Original Research - Special Collection: Zimbabwean Scholars in Dialogue

Theology for sustainable development in Zimbabwe: Unpacking Deuteronomy 20:19–20 in light of SDG 15

Milcah Mudewairi
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 79, No 4 | a8938 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v79i4.8938 | © 2023 Milcah Mudewairi | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 01 May 2023 | Published: 18 December 2023

About the author(s)

Milcah Mudewairi, Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Faculty of Theology, Education, Leadership and Development, Zimbabwe Ezekiel Guti University, Harare, Zimbabwe; and Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, South Africa


This article aims at a ‘green’ reading of Deuteronomy 20:19–20 with special reference to combat deforestation in Zimbabwe. The article relates to Sustainable Development Goal 15 (SDG 15) of the United Nations Agenda 2030, namely Goal 15 – Life and Land. The article demonstrates that the depletion of the natural environment in Zimbabwe is happening in a way unknown before. It argues that the government of Zimbabwe’s legislative framework for mitigating deforestation is proving to be unsuccessful. This is a pointer that environmental conservation problems in Zimbabwe are also spiritual, hence the need to incorporate additional conservation strategies like biblical hermeneutics. The value addition of this article is the application of the Deuteronomic laws. From the perspective of the exegesis of Deuteronomy 20:19–20 and the surrounding texts, the article focuses on the deforestation in Zimbabwe and aims at the recovering of spiritual strategies of valuing human life without compromising the right of the natural environment. Applying the reading for recovery design, the study gathered data through extensive literature review and biblical exegesis.

Contribution: The exegesis of Deuteronomy 20:19–20 is applied to desist from the disproportionate cutting down of trees even during the difficult times such as war, economic hardship and health pandemics. The article contributes to the SDG 15, namely Life and Land. The research envisions that Zimbabwean communities, with the support of the aforementioned exegesis will introduce a programme of deforestation. Trees ought to be considered as of equal value to human beings. The Bible continues to be not bound by space and time and can still be applicable to the contemporary needs of the believers.


reading for recovery; United Nations Agenda 2030; sustainable development goals; SDG 15; biblical exegesis.

Sustainable Development Goal

Goal 15: Life on land


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