The role of the judiciary in promoting sustainable development: The experience of asia and the Pacific

Abstract

Sustainable development is increasingly promulgated in international and national legal contexts, but there is a long way to go in terms of implementation. The role of the judiciary is thus of the greatest importance. The judiciary, particularly at a national level, is faced with the task of explicating the law of sustainable development, case by case. Incrementally a body of environmental jurisprudence is emerging. In performing this task, national judiciaries will be assisted by the exchange of judicial decisions, information and experience between jurisdictions. In this way, national judiciaries may benefit from each other's knowledge, experience and expertise. The purpose of this article is to contribute to this information-sharing goal. It outlines, in brief, the role of the judiciary and explicates the history and concept of sustainable development. It then focuses on four key elements or principles of sustainable development: the precautionary principle, inter- and intragenerational equity, the conservation of biological diversity and ecological integrity, and the internalisation of environmental costs. For each of the elements or principles, the history and concept are explained and decisions of national judiciaries in the Asia-Pacific Region are provided. In addition, the concept of the public trust is addressed in a similar fashion.

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