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 9: Introduction to ASEAN regional environmental law

Ben Boer

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


This chapter explores the legal, institutional and policy framework that underpins environmental management and sustainable development in Southeast Asia. It focuses particularly on the work of Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). ASEAN is seen as the main regional driver of environmental policy, as well as an important platform for interaction with global institutions. The chapter also looks at the Mekong region, of which five ASEAN member states are part. Finally, it discusses the main environmental legislation and policy of the ASEAN member countries. It will be seen that there are significant differences in regulatory frameworks from one jurisdiction to another. The principle or concept of sustainable development, which is a focus of this chapter, has permeated regional policy, as evidenced in the various regional legal instruments, and non-legally binding charters and declarations that have been generated in the past four decades since ASEAN was established. However, the substantive incorporation of sustainable development law and policy at a national level varies from one jurisdiction to another, despite the regional instruments that promote it. It cannot yet be said to have acquired a normative content in the region, either at the level of legislative development or in judicial decisions. In passing, we can note that the notion of ‘sustainability’ is ethically more satisfactory than the concept of sustainable development, but the latter term is the one that has taken hold in most policy documents and legislative enactments that deal with it.

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