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Nicholas Bryner

As the field of environmental law developed in the second half of the twentieth century, a growing number of legal systems began to weave together environmental law and elements of human rights law. Today, the majority of the world’s countries include in their constitutions some treatment of either a right to a safe and healthy environment or some form of state responsibility for environmental protection. This chapter provides a survey of the issues associated with a constitutional right for humans to enjoy a healthy environment. It addresses foundational questions, such as the definition of a healthy environment, and the significance of constitutionalising environmental values. Implementing an effective constitutional human right to a healthy environment – one that leads to better substantive environmental outcomes as well as improved social, cultural and economic sustainability – involves several challenges, particularly in terms of how legal institutions carry out and enforce such a right. The chapter analyses several examples, including the application of constitutional provisions in Brazil, the Philippines, South Africa and the State Constitution of Pennsylvania in the United States. Given the fundamental interdependence of humans and the rest of the Earth around them, especially the human need to breathe air, drink water and eat food – all of which are supported by environmental processes – there will need to be greater creativity, greater commitment and greater effort to safeguard the right to a healthy environment and to ensure a sustainable future.

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Nicholas S Bryner

Environmental decisions can have significant impacts on ‘public’ interests of shared concern. An important number of countries and jurisdictions have adopted mechanisms or legal institutions in order to facilitate representation of these collective interests in the defence of the environment and toward the enforcement of environmental laws. This chapter discusses different models for increasing access to justice, including public intervenor institutions—independent legal institutions that can bring court cases on behalf of the public and represent collective public interests—and public funding policies, including fee-shifting in environmental litigation. It looks specifically at Brazil and its Ministério Público (public prosecutors), an institution that is independent from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches in the country, and carries as part of its constitutionally prescribed mandate a charge to defend public environmental interests in civil litigation. It then compares Brazil’s model with examples in the United States, Australia, and Canada. These approaches have different advantages and strengths, but can serve as a useful complement to other legal institutions, particularly in defending diffuse environmental rights or interests shared by large groups or segments of society.
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Edited by LeRoy C Paddock, David L Markell and Nicholas S Bryner

The Elgar Encyclopedia of Environmental Law is a landmark reference work, providing definitive and comprehensive coverage of this dynamic field. The Encyclopedia is organised into 12 volumes around top-level subjects ? such as water, energy and climate change ? that reflect some of the most pressing issues facing us today. Each volume probes the key elements of law, the essential concepts, and the latest research through concise, structured entries written by international experts. Each entry includes an extensive bibliography as a starting point for further reading. The mix of authoritative commentary and insightful discussion will make this an essential tool for research and teaching, as well as a valuable resource for professionals and policymakers.
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Edited by LeRoy C Paddock, Robert L Glicksman and Nicholas S Bryner

The Elgar Encyclopedia of Environmental Law is a landmark reference work, providing definitive and comprehensive coverage of this dynamic field. The Encyclopedia is organised into 12 volumes around top-level subjects – such as water, energy and climate change – that reflect some of the most pressing issues facing us today. Each volume probes the key elements of law, the essential concepts, and the latest research through concise, structured entries written by international experts. Each entry includes an extensive bibliography as a starting point for further reading. The mix of authoritative commentary and insightful discussion will make this an essential tool for research and teaching, as well as a valuable resource for professionals and policymakers.