Transregional Comparative Lessons in Pursuit of Sustainable Development
New Horizons in Environmental and Energy Law series
Edited by Werner Scholtz and Jonathan Verschuuren
Chapter 9: Introduction to ASEAN regional environmental law
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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