Environmental Policies — Sustainable Development

  • John Alder
  • David Wilkinson
Part of the Macmillan Law Masters book series (MLM)


Sustainable development is a term that has come to pervade environmental policy discussion. However, its meaning and value are hotly contested. At one end of the spectrum sustainable development is regarded as an empty platitude intended to provide a formula acceptable to most ethical and political points of view. At the other extreme sustainable development is regarded as a useful policy guide although no one believes that the concept is capable of being directly applied in law. In this chapter we shall discuss possible meanings of sustainable development, attempt to relate the concept to the law, and draw attention to some of its main criticisms. Sustainable development is closely related to the precautionary principle that is discussed in Chapter 6. It is a strongly anthropocentric concept.


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Further Reading

  1. ‘Agora’ (1990) What does Our Generation Owe to the Next? American Journal of International Law, 84, 190.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Des Jardins, J.R. (1997) Environmental Ethics: An Introduction to Environmental Philosophy, 2nd edn, chapter 4 (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth).Google Scholar
  3. Dobson, A. (1995) Green Political Thought, 2nd edn, chapter 3 (London: Routledge).Google Scholar
  4. Elworthy, S. and Holder, J. (1997) Environmental Protection, Text and Materials (London: Butterworths), pp. 132–53.Google Scholar
  5. Ginther, K and Denters, E. (eds) (1995) Sustainable Development and Good Governance (Amsterdam: Kluwer).Google Scholar
  6. Jewell, T. and Steele, J. (1996) UK Regulatory Reform and the Pursuit of Sustainable Development. Journal of Environmental Law, 8, 283.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Passmore, J. (1980) Man’s Responsibility for Nature: Ecological Problems and Western Tradition, 2nd edn, chapter 4 (London: Duckworth).Google Scholar
  8. Pearce, D., Markandya, A., Barbier, E.B. (1989) Blueprint for a Green Economy, chapters 2 and 6 (London: Earthscan).Google Scholar
  9. Shannuganthan, P. and Warren, L.M (1997) Status of Sustainable Development as a Norm of International Law, Journal of Environmental Law, 9, 221.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© John Alder and David Wilkinson 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Alder
    • 1
  • David Wilkinson
    • 2
  1. 1.Newcastle Law SchoolUniversity of NewcastleUK
  2. 2.School of LawKeele UniversityUK

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