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Chapter: Future Laws Forum
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David VanderZwaag 1 Excerpts from 'Law Reform for Sustainable Development'; Chapter Five; 'Empowerment: Towards Sustainable Development', edited by Naresh Singh and Vangile Titi; Fernwood Publishing Ltd, 1995; page 68.
  2 Watch this space for new additions!
  3 Watch this space for new additions!
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Que sera sera ... we can only dream of a world free of want: where the promise of science is fulfilled; where knowledge is unleashed as a social force. We would like to believe that such a future is on the horizon of Bengal. However, to seize this vision, it must be taken up, struggled over, articulated, popularized and made into a material force.

But what can 'Future Vision' do? For too long, the debate about social change has been focussed around old world concepts of a world fast disappearing. We must pose the proper questions, not just towards understanding the world we live in, but towards changing it. New ideas are needed to annihilate the accumulation of exhausted ideas.

Hopefully, 'Future Vision' will contribute to that effort. Join us ... send us your contributions and thoughts: mailto: sankalpatrust@hotmail.com.
Bon voyage!

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1. Excerpts from 'Law Reform for Sustainable Development', by David VanderZwaag; Chapter Five; 'Empowerment: Towards Sustainable Development', edited by Naresh Singh and Vangile Titi; Fernwood Publishing Ltd, 1995; page 68.
The power of principles for human health and environmental protection
Various principles, having powerful implications for institutional and legal change, have emerged under the umbrella concept of sustainable development. They include amongst others the principles of:
  • precaution
  • integration
  • public participation, and
  • indigeneous- and community-based development/management.
The principles, many of them conceived in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, have been given renewed life in the Earth Chapter adopted at the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development. The generality of the principles leaves great room for further articulation at the international and national levels. However, the principles may act as guiding currents drawing the vessels of state in a general direction to be given a more specific drift through political/social debates.

The precautionary principle:
The Rio declaration on environment and development (Agenda 21, United Nations 1992:9) sets out the precautionarhy approach in Principle 15:

    In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threatrs of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
... The commonsense notions include:
  • the idea that it is better to prevent pollution than depend on costly control strategies or clean-ups later;
  • the conviction that environmental measures should not depend on wait for scientific certainty or cause-effect links, and
  • the presumption that it is better to err in decision-making on the side of caution.
While the principle continues to be elusive, a number of future legal directions have been commonly advocated with empowerment implications for individual rights and environmental protection. Some authors have suggested a shifting of the burden of proof to development proponents to show a level of afety through scientific proof before they are allowed to proceed with a project or the production/marketing of a toxic substance. The level or standard of safety need not be "absolute" but might be phrased in terms of "no reasonable medical concern" or "no reasonable ecological concern". Environmental audits and waste minimization plans might be required from industries as prerequisites to the issuance of permits to pollute. Legislation might also be passed to encourage pollution reduction and prevention through such measures as research grants for alternative, cleaner technologies and the promotion of toxic use reduction plans. In many developing country contexts, pollution prevention may hinge on adequate transfers of environmentally sound technologies.

The term 'external integration' encapsulates the need for all policy sectors, at both national and international levels - such as finance, energy, agriculture and trade - to ensure that their plans, programs and budgets integrate economic and environmental concerns. 'Internal integration' refers to the need to overcome fragmentation in departmental responsibilities and permitting processes for air, water and land pollution through considerations of cross-media effects and coordination of governmental control efforts, possibly through a unified agency and/or permit.

The general notion of external integration is given new life in Agenda 21 in Principle 4:

    In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it.
One possible route to "legalizing" external integration - which is critical for ensuring that all government departments support appropriate development through the integration of environmental concerns into developmental decisions - would be to mandate that all government departments and agencies take sustainable development seriously. For example, the Yukon's Environment Act 1991 requires all government ministers to "ensure that consideration of the environment is integrated in all decisions of the Government ... including policies, programs, budgeting funding, regulatory initiatives , plans, developments and projects." ... Environmental impact assessment requirements for government plans, policies and programs might be another path to ensure sustainability reviews.

Public Participation:
The issue of public participation is a separate principle in the Rio declaration. Principle 10 provides:

    Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual


[Reminder from Essem: This presentation is only an extract. Please read the full article for a more comprehensive understanding of the subject.]

Links to definitions/discussions on the subject of 'Sustainable Development':

Comment # 1: Received from:

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