The development-environment nexus: promises and perils of global governance

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The unprecedented degradation of the planet’s vital ecosystems is one of the most pressing issues confronting the international community. From the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Development, through to the Rio +20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, the international community has responded to this crisis by adopting numerous treaties, declarations, UN General Assembly resolutions, customary rules, and judicial decisions to address specific environmental threats. Yet despite the proliferation of law and legal instruments to combat environmental degradation, the global economy continues to exceed ecosystem limits which jeopardizes the health and wellbeing of present and future generations and threatens the integrity of the planet’s biodiversity. International cooperation is necessary to address global environmental degradation.

States differ in their contribution to global environmental degradation, their vulnerability to environmental harm, their capacity to address environmental problems and the economic and political power that they wield in multilateral environmental negotiations and international economic and financial institutions. Because environmental issues are closely intertwined with economic and social issues, international environmental law has been (and continues to be) the site of intense North-South disagreement over environmental priorities and over the allocation of responsibility for current and historic environmental harm. These conflicts have often resulted in inadequate compliance with existing environmental agreements as well as deadlocks in ongoing treaty negotiations.

This Chapter will explore the development-environment nexus from the perspective of developing countries. Highlighting the South’s demands for economic justice and national self-determination through a variety of legal doctrines over the years, including the right to development and permanent sovereignty over natural resources, this Chapter will analyse the enduring inequalities of Southern countries in both international economic law and international environmental law in dealing with this inextricable development-environment nexus.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook of development policy
EditorsHabib Zafarullah, Ahmed Shafiqul Huque
Place of PublicationCheltenham, UK ; Northampton, USA
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
ISBN (Electronic)9781839100871
ISBN (Print)9781839100864
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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