Regional Environmental Law

Regional Environmental Law

Transregional Comparative Lessons in Pursuit of Sustainable Development

New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series

Edited by Werner Scholtz and Jonathan Verschuuren

The core focus of this timely volume is to ascertain how regional environmental law may contribute to the pursuit of global sustainable development. Leading scholars critically analyze the ways in which states may pool sovereignty to find solutions to environmental problems, presenting a comparative legal analysis of the manner in which the AU, EU, OAS and ASEAN deal with the issues of climate change, human rights and the environment.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Werner Scholtz and Jonathan Verschuuren

Subjects: development studies, law and development, environment, environmental law, law - academic, comparative law, environmental law, law and development


The World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) coined the definition of sustainable development as ‘development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. Since the inception and progressive international acceptance of this concept, sustainable development has been a source of controversy among scholars. International legal scholarship still disputes the normative content and status of sustainable development. Certain scholars hold the view that sustainable development possesses a normative quality, whereas others do not attribute it any normative value. Although sustainable development may be clouded by confusion, it has emerged as a crucial approach for the integration of economic development, social equity and environmental protection. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its judgment in the 1997 Gabćíkovo-Nagymaros case stated that the ‘concept of sustainable development’ is an appropriate expression of the ‘need to reconcile the economic development with protection of the environment’. Accordingly, environmental protection constitutes an integral part of any developmental measures, and vice versa. The inclusion of the temporal dimension in sustainable development necessitates a long-term outlook on economic and environmental policy goals. Unfortunately, the criteria for the balancing of environmental protection and economic development under sustainable development remain elusive. This very problematic issue underlying the implementation of sustainable development has not been clarified by the Rio Declaration or any subsequent instruments.