Edited by Julio Faundez and Celine Tan
Chapter 16: Environment and Development – The Missing Link
Philippe Cullet* 1. INTRODUCTION International environmental law has grown at a rapid pace over the past few decades and now covers a range of issues of relevance to developed and developing countries (see generally Birnie et al., 2008). Further, a number of environmental problems addressed in environmental treaties are of global relevance; in other words, not amenable to solution at the national or regional level. There are at least three ways to approach the link between environmental law and development at the international level. First, international environmental law has developed in the space of relatively few years into an area of law that is now fundamentally based on attempting to put conservation and economic development side by side and, ideally, reconcile the two objectives. The legally unclear umbrella notion of sustainable development provides the general framework within which all environmental issues are conceived today. Second, the link between environment and development in international law is in large part underpinned by considerations of equity that have come to dominate the engagement of the South in a variety of environmental regimes. This is reflected in legal terms in the concept of differential treatment that provides, in its most evolved form, a new basis for commitments that are not based on reciprocity of obligations. This manifestation of equity or justice concerns in international environmental law is premised for the most part on different levels of economic development in the North and South. It is also the reflection of a political compromise and, thus,...
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