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Environmental law

Environmental law - or "environmental and natural resources law" - is a collective term describing the network of treaties, statutes, regulations, and common and customary laws addressing the effects of human activity on the natural environment.


  • History 1
  • Methods 2
  • Follow-up 3
  • Around the world 4
    • Australia 4.1
      • The Commonwealth Level 4.1.1
      • The State and Territory Level 4.1.2
        • Australian Capital Territory (ACT)
        • New South Wales (NSW)
        • Northern Territory (NT)
        • Queensland (QLD)
        • South Australia (SA)
        • Tasmania (TAS)
        • Victoria (VIC)
        • Western Australia (WA)
    • Canada 4.2
      • Opposition 4.2.1
    • China 4.3
    • Egypt 4.4
    • EU 4.5
      • Annexed projects 4.5.1
      • The Netherlands 4.5.2
    • Hong Kong 4.6
    • India 4.7
    • Nepal 4.8
    • New Zealand 4.9
    • Russian Federation 4.10
      • Federal Service for monitoring the use of natural resources 4.10.1
      • Federal Service for Ecological, Technological and Nuclear Control 4.10.2
    • Sri Lanka 4.11
    • United States 4.12
      • Environmental assessment 4.12.1
        • Content
        • Structure
        • Procedure
      • Environmental impact statement 4.12.2
  • Transboundary application 5
  • Criticism 6
  • See also 7
  • References 8
    • Sources 8.1
  • Notes 9
  • Further reading 10
  • External links 11
  • Regulated sources 12
  • Vehicle emission performance standard 13
  • Americas 14
    • United States of America 14.1
  • Europe 15
    • European Union 15.1
    • UK 15.2
    • Germany 15.3
  • Asia 16
    • China 16.1
    • Hong Kong 16.2
    • India 16.3
    • Japan 16.4
    • Israel 16.5
  • Africa 17
    • South Africa 17.1
  • See also 18
  • References 19
  • External links 20
  • Alphabetical order 21
  • Topic order 22
    • General 22.1
    • Atmosphere 22.2
    • big chocolademelk 22.3
    • Hazardous substances 22.4
    • Marine environment – global conventions 22.5
    • Marine environment – regional conventions 22.6
    • Marine living resources 22.7
    • Nature conservation and terrestrial living resources 22.8
    • Noise pollution 22.9
    • Nuclear safety 22.10
  • See also 23
  • References 24
  • External links 25
  • Classification of air pollutants 26
  • Air quality standards 27
  • Emission standards 28
  • Controversy 29
  • Around the world 30
    • International law 30.1
    • Canada 30.2
    • New Zealand 30.3
    • United Kingdom 30.4
    • United States 30.5
  • See also 31
  • References 32
  • External links 33
  • Sources 34
    • Oceans and international waters 34.1
    • Surface waters 34.2
      • Canada 34.2.1
      • United States 34.2.2
    • Groundwater/aquifers 34.3
      • United States 34.3.1
    • Drinking water 34.4
      • Canada 34.4.1
      • United States 34.4.2
  • References 35
  • External links 36
  • Waste determination 37
  • Disposal standards 38
  • Around the world 39
    • International law 39.1
    • China 39.2
    • European Union 39.3
    • United Kingdom 39.4
    • United States 39.5
  • References 40
  • Emergency response and prevention 41
  • Environmental remediation 42
  • References 43
    • Notes 43.1
  • Topics 44
    • Ownership 44.1
    • Support 44.2
  • By country 45
    • Mining law in German-speaking countries 45.1
      • Today 45.1.1
    • Anglo-Saxon mining law 45.2
    • Mining law in French-speaking countries 45.3
  • See also 46
  • References 47
  • Literature 48
  • External links 49
  • Regulatory subjects 50
    • Impact assessment 50.1
    • Air quality 50.2
    • Water quality 50.3
    • Waste management 50.4
    • Contaminant cleanup 50.5
    • Chemical safety 50.6
    • Water resources 50.7
    • Mineral resources 50.8
    • Forest resources 50.9
    • Wildlife and plants 50.10
    • Fish and game 50.11
  • Important principles 51
    • Sustainable Development 51.1
    • Equity 51.2
    • Transboundary responsibility 51.3
    • Public participation and transparency 51.4
    • Precautionary principle 51.5
    • Prevention 51.6
    • Polluter pays principle 51.7
  • History 52
  • Controversy 53
  • Around the world 54
    • International law 54.1
    • Africa 54.2
    • Asia 54.3
    • European Union 54.4
    • Middle East 54.5
    • Oceania 54.6
    • Australia 54.7
    • Brazil 54.8
    • Canada 54.9
    • China 54.10
    • Ecuador 54.11
    • Egypt 54.12
    • India 54.13
    • Japan 54.14
    • New Zealand 54.15
    • Russia 54.16
    • South Africa 54.17
    • United States 54.18
    • Vietnam 54.19
  • References 55
    • Notes 55.1
    • Further reading 55.2
    • External links 55.3

Regulatory subjects

The broad category of "environmental law" may be broken down into a number of more specific regulatory subjects. While there is no single agreed-upon taxonomy, the core environmental law regimes address environmental pollution. A related but distinct set of regulatory regimes, now strongly influenced by environmental legal principles, focus on the management of specific natural resources, such as forests, minerals, or fisheries. Other areas, such as environmental impact assessment, may not fit neatly into either category, but are nonetheless important components of environmental law.

Impact assessment

Environmental impact assessment is the formal process used to predict the environmental consequences (positive or negative) of a plan, policy, program, or project prior to the decision to move forward with the proposed action. Formal impact assessments may be governed by rules of administrative procedure regarding public participation and documentation of decisionmaking, and may be subject to judicial review. An impact assessment may propose measures to adjust impacts to acceptable levels or to investigate new technological solutions.

Air quality

Air quality laws govern the emission of air pollutants into the atmosphere. A specialized subset of air quality laws regulate the quality of air inside buildings. Air quality laws are often designed specifically to protect human health by limiting or eliminating airborne pollutant concentrations. Other initiatives are designed to address broader ecological problems, such as limitations on chemicals that affect the ozone layer, and emissions trading programs to address acid rain or climate change. Regulatory efforts include identifying and categorizing air pollutants, setting limits on acceptable emissions levels, and dictating necessary or appropriate mitigation technologies.

Water quality

Water quality laws govern the release of pollutants into water resources, including surface water, ground water, and stored drinking water. Some water quality laws, such as drinking water regulations, may be designed solely with reference to human health. Many others, including restrictions on the alteration of the chemical, physical, radiological, and biological characteristics of water resources, may also reflect efforts to protect aquatic ecosystems more broadly. Regulatory efforts may include identifying and categorizing water pollutants and dictating acceptable pollutant concentrations in water resources. Regulatory areas include sewage treatment and disposal, industrial and agricultural waste water management, and control of surface runoff from construction sites and urban environments.

Waste management

Waste management laws govern the transport, treatment, storage, and disposal of all manner of waste, including municipal solid waste, hazardous waste, and nuclear waste, among many other types. Waste laws are generally designed to minimize or eliminate the uncontrolled dispersal of waste materials into the environment in a manner that may cause ecological or biological harm, and include laws designed to reduce the generation of waste and promote or mandate waste recycling. Regulatory efforts include identifying and categorizing waste types and mandating transport, treatment, storage, and disposal practices.

Contaminant cleanup

Environmental cleanup laws govern the removal of pollution or contaminants from environmental media such as soil, sediment, surface water, or ground water. Unlike pollution control laws, cleanup laws are designed to respond after-the-fact to environmental contamination, and consequently must often define not only the necessary response actions, but also the parties who may be responsible for undertaking (or paying for) such actions. Regulatory requirements may include rules for emergency response, liability allocation, site assessment, remedial investigation, feasibility studies, remedial action, post-remedial monitoring, and site reuse.

Chemical safety

Chemical safety laws govern the use of chemicals in human activities, particularly man-made chemicals in modern industrial applications. As contrasted with media-oriented environmental laws (e.g., air or water quality laws), chemical control laws seek to manage the (potential) pollutants themselves. Regulatory efforts include banning specific chemical constituents in consumer products (e.g., Bisphenol A in plastic bottles), and regulating pesticides.

Water resources

Water resources laws govern the ownership and use of water resources, including surface water and ground water. Regulatory areas may include water conservation, use restrictions, and ownership regimes.

Mineral resources

Mineral resource laws cover several basic topics, including the ownership of the mineral resource and who can work them. Mining is also affected by various regulations regarding the health and safety of miners, as well as the environmental impact of mining.

Forest resources

Forestry laws govern activities in designated forest lands, most commonly with respect to forest management and timber harvesting. Ancillary laws may regulate forest land acquisition and prescribed burn practices. Forest management laws generally adopt management policies, such as multiple use and sustained yield, by which public forest resources are to be managed. Governmental agencies are generally responsible for planning and implementing forestry laws on public forest lands, and may be involved in forest inventory, planning, and conservation, and oversight of timber sales. Broader initiatives may seek to slow or reverse deforestation.

Wildlife and plants

Wildlife laws govern the potential impact of human activity on wild animals, whether directly on individuals or populations, or indirectly via habitat degradation. Similar laws may operate to protect plant species. Such laws may be enacted entirely to protect biodiversity, or as a means for protecting species deemed important for other reasons. Regulatory efforts may including the creation of special conservation statuses, prohibitions on killing, harming, or disturbing protected species, efforts to induce and support species recovery, establishment of wildlife refuges to support conservation, and prohibitions on trafficking in species or animal parts to combat poaching.

Fish and game

Fish and game laws regulate the right to pursue and take or kill certain kinds of fish and wild animal (game). Such laws may restrict the days to harvest fish or game, the number of animals caught per person, the species harvested, or the weapons or fishing gear used. Such laws may seek to balance dueling needs for preservation and harvest and to manage both environment and populations of fish and game. Game laws can provide a legal structure to collect license fees and other money which is used to fund conservation efforts as well as to obtain harvest information used in wildlife management practice.

Important principles

Environmental law has developed in response to emerging awareness of and concern over issues impacting the entire world. While laws have developed piecemeal and for a variety of reasons, some effort has gone into identifying key concepts and guiding principles common to environmental law as a whole.[1] The principles discussed below are not an exhaustive list and are not universally recognized or accepted. Nonetheless, they represent important principles for the understanding of environmental law around the world.

Sustainable Development

Defined by the United Nations Environment Programme as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs," sustainable development may be considered together with the concepts of "integration" (development cannot be considered in isolation from sustainability) and "interdependence" (social and economic development, and environmental protection, are interdependent).[2] Laws mandating environmental impact assessment and requiring or encouraging development to minimize environmental impacts may be assessed against this principle.

The modern concept of sustainable development was a topic of discussion at the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (Stockholm Conference), and the driving force behind the 1983 World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED, or Bruntland Commission). In 1992, the first UN Earth Summit resulted in the Rio Declaration, Principle 3 of which reads: "The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations." Sustainable development has been a core concept of international environmental discussion ever since, including at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit 2002), and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Earth Summit 2012, or Rio+20).


Defined by UNEP to include intergenerational equity - "the right of future generations to enjoy a fair level of the common patrimony" - and intragenerational equity - "the right of all people within the current generation to fair access to the current generation's entitlement to the Earth's natural resources" - environmental equity considers the present generation under an obligation to account for long-term impacts of activities, and to act to sustain the global environment and resource base for future generations.[3] Pollution control and resource management laws may be assessed against this principle.

Transboundary responsibility

Defined in the international law context as an obligation to protect one's own environment, and to prevent damage to neighboring environments, UNEP considers transboundary responsibility at the international level as a potential limitation on the rights of the sovereign state.[4] Laws that act to limit externalities imposed upon human health and the environment may be assessed against this principle.

Public participation and transparency

Identified as essential conditions for "accountable governments . . ., industrial concerns," and organizations generally, public participation and transparency are presented by UNEP as requiring "effective protection of the human right to hold and express opinions and to seek, receive and impart ideas," "a right of access to appropriate, comprehensible and timely information held by governments and industrial concerns on economic and social policies regarding the sustainable use of natural resources and the protection of the environment, without imposing undue financial burdens upon the applicants and with adequate protection of privacy and business confidentiality," and "effective judicial and administrative proceedings." These principles are present in environmental impact assessment, laws requiring publication and access to relevant environmental data, and administrative procedure.

Precautionary principle

One of the most commonly encountered and controversial principles of environmental law, the Rio Declaration formulated the precautionary principle as follows:

In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.

The principle may play a role in any debate over the need for environmental regulation.


The concept of prevention . . . can perhaps better be considered an overarching aim that gives rise to a multitude of legal mechanisms, including prior assessment of environmental harm, licensing or authorization that set out the conditions for operation and the consequences for violation of the conditions, as well as the adoption of strategies and policies. Emission limits and other product or process standards, the use of best available techniques and similar techniques can all be seen as applications of the concept of prevention.[5]

Polluter pays principle

The polluter pays principle stands for the idea that "the environmental costs of economic activities, including the cost of preventing potential harm, should be internalized rather than imposed upon society at large."[6] All issues related to responsibility for cost for environmental remediation and compliance with pollution control regulations involve this principle.


Early examples of legal enactments designed to consciously preserve the environment, for its own sake or human enjoyment, are found throughout history. In the common law, the primary protection was found in the law of nuisance, but this only allowed for private actions for damages or injunctions if there was harm to land. Thus smells emanating from pig stys,[7] strict liability against dumping rubbish,[8] or damage from exploding dams.[9] Private enforcement, however, was limited and found to be woefully inadequate to deal with major environmental threats, particularly threats to common resources. During the "Great Stink" of 1858, the dumping of sewerage into the River Thames began to smell so ghastly in the summer heat that Parliament had to be evacuated. Ironically, the Metropolitan Commission of Sewers Act 1848 had allowed the Metropolitan Commission for Sewers to close cesspits around the city in an attempt to "clean up" but this simply led people to pollute the river. In 19 days, Parliament passed a further Act to build the London sewerage system. London also suffered from terrible air pollution, and this culminated in the "Great Smog" of 1952, which in turn triggered its on legislative response: the Clean Air Act 1956. The basic regulatory structure was to set limits on emissions for households and business (particularly burning coal) while an inspectorate would enforce compliance.

Notwithstanding early analogues, the concept of "environmental law" as a separate and distinct body of law is a twentieth-century development.[10] The recognition that the natural environment was fragile and in need of special legal protections, the translation of that recognition into legal structures, the development of those structures into a larger body of "environmental law," and the strong influence of environmental law on natural resource laws, did not occur until about the 1960s. At that time, numerous influences - including a growing awareness of the unity and fragility of the biosphere; increased public concern over the impact of industrial activity on natural resources and human health; the increasing strength of the regulatory state; and more broadly the advent and success of environmentalism as a political movement - coalesced to produce a huge new body of law in a relatively short period of time. While the modern history of environmental law is one of continuing controversy, by the end of the twentieth century environmental law had been established as a component of the legal landscape in all developed nations of the world, many developing ones, and the larger project of international law.


Environmental law is a continuing source of controversy. Debates over the necessity, fairness, and cost of environmental regulation are ongoing. Allegations of scientific uncertainty fuel the ongoing debate over greenhouse gas regulation and are a major factor in the debate over whether to ban pesticides.[11] It is very common for regulated industry to argue against environmental regulation on the basis of cost.[12] Difficulties arise, however, in performing cost-benefit analysis of environmental issues. It is difficult to quantify the value of an environmental value such as a healthy ecosystem, clean air, or species diversity. Furthermore environmental issues may gain an ethical or moral dimension that would discount financial cost. Controversy is not limited to those who oppose environmental regulation: many groups take the position that current regulations are inadequately protective, and advocate for strengthening regulations.

Around the world

International law

Global and regional environmental issues are increasingly the subject of international law. Debates over environmental concerns implicate core principles of international law and have been the subject of numerous international agreements and declarations.

Customary international law is an important source of international environmental law. These are the norms and rules that countries follow as a matter of custom and they are so prevalent that they bind all states in the world. When a principle becomes customary law is not clear cut and many arguments are put forward by states not wishing to be bound. Examples of customary international law relevant to the environment include the duty to warn other states promptly about icons of an environmental nature and environmental damages to which another state or states may be exposed, and Principle 21 of the Stockholm Declaration ('good neighbourliness' or sic utere).

Numerous legally binding international agreements encompass a wide variety of issue-areas, from terrestrial, marine and atmospheric pollution through to wildlife and biodiversity protection. International environmental agreements are generally multilateral (or sometimes bilateral) treaties (a.k.a. convention, agreement, protocol, etc.). Protocols are subsidiary agreements built from a primary treaty. They exist in many areas of international law but are especially useful in the environmental field, where they may be used to regularly incorporate recent scientific knowledge. They also permit countries to reach agreement on a framework that would be contentious if every detail were to be agreed upon in advance. The most widely known protocol in international environmental law is the Kyoto Protocol, which followed from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

While the bodies that proposed, argued, agreed upon and ultimately adopted existing international agreements vary according to each agreement, certain conferences, including 1972's Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

International environmental law also includes the opinions of international courts and tribunals. While there are few and they have limited authority, the decisions carry much weight with legal commentators and are quite influential on the development of international environmental law. One of the biggest challenges in international decisions is to determine an adequate compensation for environmental damages.[13] The courts include the International Court of Justice (ICJ); the international Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS); the European Court of Justice; European Court of Human Rights[14] and other regional treaty tribunals.


According to the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE), the major environmental issues in Africa are “drought and flooding, air pollution, deforestation, loss of biodiversity, freshwater availability, degradation of soil and vegetation, and widespread poverty.” [15] The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is focused on the “growing urban and industrial pollution, water quality, electronic waste and indoor air from cookstoves.” [16] They hope to provide enough aid on concerns regarding pollution before their impacts contaminate the African environment as well as the global environment. By doing so, they intend to “protect human health, particularly vulnerable populations such as children and the poor.” [16] In order to accomplish these goals in Africa, EPA programs are focused on strengthening the ability to enforce environmental laws as well as public compliance to them. Other programs work on developing stronger environmental laws, regulations, and standards.[16]


The Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN) is an agreement between 16 Asian countries dedicated to improving cooperation with environmental laws in Asia. These countries include Cambodia, China, Indonesia, India, Maldives, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Pakistan, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam, and Lao PDR.[17]

European Union

The European Union issues secondary legislation on environmental issues that are valid throughout the EU (so called regulations) and many directives that must be implemented into national legislation from the 28 member states (national states). Examples are the Regulation (EC) No. 338/97 on the implementation of CITES or the Directive 92/43/EEC on Fauna-Flora-Habitat. EU legislation is ruled in Article 249 Treaty for the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU). Topics for common EU legislation are:

  • Climate change
  • Air pollution
  • Water protection and management
  • Waste management
  • Soil protection
  • Protection of nature, species and biodiversity
  • Noise pollution
  • Cooperation for the environment with third countries (other than EU member states)
  • Civil protection

Middle East

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working with countries in the Middle East to improve “environmental governance, water pollution and water security, clean fuels and vehicles, public participation, and pollution prevention.”[18]


The main concerns on environmental issues in the Oceanic Region are “illegal releases of air and water pollutants, illegal logging/timber trade, illegal shipment of hazardous wastes, including e-waste and ships slated for destruction, and insufficient institutional structure/lack of enforcement capacity”.[19] The

  • Europa: Environmental rules of the European Union
  • Europa: Summaries of Legislation - Environment
European Union
  • West Coast Environmental Law (non-profit law firm)
  • Ecojustice
  • Canadian Environmental Law Association
  • Environmental Law Centre (of Alberta)
  • American Bar Association Section of Environment, Energy and Resources
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • Environmental Law Institute (ELI)
  • EarthJustice
United States
  • United Nations Environment Programme
  • ECOLEX (Gateway to Environmental Law)
  • Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide(E-LAW)
  • Centre for International Environmental Law
  • Wildlife Interest Group, American Society of International Law
  • EarthRights International
  • Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense
  • United Kingdom Environmental Law Association
  • Lexadin global law database
  • Upholding Environmental Laws in Asia and the Pacific

External links

  • Farber & Carlson, eds. (2013). Cases and Materials on Environmental Law, 9th. West Academic Publishing. 1008 pp. ISBN 978-0314283986.
  • Akhatov, Aydar (1996). Ecology & International Law. Мoscow: АST-PRESS. 512 pp. ISBN 5-214-00225-4 (English) / (Russian)
  • Faure, Michael, and Niels Philipsen, eds. (2014). Environmental Law & European Law. The Hague: Eleven International Publishing. 142 pp. ISBN 9789462360754 (English)

Further reading

  1. ^ For example, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has identified eleven "emerging principles and concepts" in international environmental law, derived from the 1972 Stockholm Conference, the 1992 Rio Declaration, and more recent developments. UNEP, Training Manual on International Environmental Law (Chapter 3).
  2. ^ UNEP Manual, ¶¶ 12-19.
  3. ^ UNEP Manual, ¶¶ 20-23.
  4. ^ UNEP Manual, ¶¶ 24-28.
  5. ^ UNEP Manual, ¶¶ 58.
  6. ^ Rio Declaration Principle 16; UNEP Manual ¶ 63.
  7. ^ Aldred's Case (1610) 9 Co Rep 57b; (1610) 77 ER 816
  8. ^ R v Stephens (1866) LR 1 QB 702
  9. ^ Rylands v Fletcher [1868] UKHL 1
  10. ^ See generally R. Lazarus, The Making of Environmental Law (Cambridge Press 2004); P. Gates, History of Public Land Law Development.
  11. ^ See, e.g., DDT.
  12. ^ In the United States, estimates of environmental regulation's total costs reach 2% of GDP. See Pizer & Kopp, Calculating the Costs of Environmental Regulation, 1 (2003 Resources for the Future).
  13. ^ Hardman Reis, T., Compensation for Environmental Damages Under International Law, Kluwer Law International, The Hague, 2011, ISBN 978-90-411-3437-0.
  14. ^ "ECtHR case-law factsheet on environment" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-11-08. 
  15. ^ "INECE Regions- Africa". Retrieved 18 October 2012. 
  16. ^ a b c "Africa International Programs". Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  17. ^ "AECEN". Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  18. ^ "EPA Middle East". Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "INECE Regions - Asia and the Pacific". Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Agreement Establishing SPREP". Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  21. ^ Taylor, Prue; Stroud, Lucy; Peteru, Clark (2013). Multilateral Environmental Agreement Negotiator’s Handbook: Pacific Region 2013. Samoa / New Zealand: Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme / New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law, University of Auckland.  
  22. ^ a b "EPBC Act". Retrieved October 18, 2012. 
  23. ^ "Apresentação". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  24. ^ "Department of the Environment Act". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  25. ^ "Environment Canada". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  26. ^ EPA, China Environmental Law Initiative.
  27. ^ Vermont Law School, China Partnership for Environmental Law; C. McElwee, Environmental Law in China: Mitigating Risk and Ensuring Compliance.
  28. ^ NRDC, Environmental Law in China.
  29. ^ Wang, Alex (2013). "The Search for Sustainable Legitimacy: Environmental Law and Bureaucracy in China".  
  30. ^ Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF). 2008. accessed April, 2012.
  31. ^ Gudynas, Eduardo. 2011. Buen Vivir: Today's Tomorrow Development 54(4):441-447.
  32. ^ Becker, Marc. 2011 Correa, Indigenous Movements, and the Writing of a New Constitution in Ecuador. Latin American Perspectives 38(1):47-62.
  33. ^ "Law 4". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  34. ^ a b c "The Basic Environment Law". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  35. ^ "Ministry for the Environment". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  36. ^ "Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation". Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  37. ^ "Vietnam International Programs". Environmental Protection Agency. Retrieved October 18, 2012. 



Vietnam is currently working with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on dioxin remediation and technical assistance in order to lower methane emissions. On March 2002, the U.S and Vietnam signed the U.S.-Vietnam Memorandum of Understanding on Research on Human Health and the Environmental Effects of Agent Orange/Dioxin.[37]


United States

South Africa

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment of the Russian Federation makes regulation regarding “conservation of natural resources, including the subsoil, water bodies, forests located in designated conservation areas, fauna and their habitat, in the field of hunting, hydrometeorology and related areas, environmental monitoring and pollution control, including radiation monitoring and control, and functions of public environmental policy making and implementation and statutory regulation."[36]


The Ministry for the Environment and Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment were established by the Environment Act 1986. These positions are responsible for advising the Minister on all areas of environmental legislation. A common theme of New Zealand’s environmental legislation is sustainably managing natural and physical resources, fisheries, and forests. The Resource Management Act 1991 is the main piece of environmental legislation that outlines the government’s strategy to managing the “environment, including air, water soil, biodiversity, the coastal environment, noise, subdivision, and land use planning in general.”[35]

New Zealand

The three basic environmental principles that the Basic Environmental Law follows are “the blessings of the environment should be enjoyed by the present generation and succeeded to the future generations, a sustainable society should be created where environmental loads by human activities are minimized, and Japan should contribute actively to global environmental conservation through international cooperation.”[34] From these principles, the Japanese government have established policies such as “environmental consideration in policy formulation, establishment of the Basic Environment Plan which describes the directions of long-term environmental policy, environmental impact assessment for development projects, economic measures to encourage activities for reducing environmental load, improvement of social infrastructure such as sewerage system, transport facilities etc., promotion of environmental activities by corporations, citizens and NGOs, environmental education, and provision of information, promotion of science and technology."[34]

The Basic Environmental Law is the basic structure of Japan’s environmental policies replacing the Basic Law for Environmental Pollution Control and the Nature Conservation Law. The updated law aims to address “global environmental problems, urban pollution by everyday life, loss of accessible natural environment in urban areas and degrading environmental protection capacity in forests and farmlands.”[34]


In India, Environmental law is governed by the Environment Protection Act, 1986. This act is enforced by the Central Pollution Control Board and the numerous State Pollution Control Boards. Apart from this, there are also individual legislations specifically enacted for the protection of Water, Air, Wildlife, etc. Such legislations include the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977; the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980; the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; The Biological Diversity Act, 2002 and the Wild Life Protection Act, 1972. The National Green Tribunal established under the National Green Tribunal Act of 2010 has jurisdiction over all environmental cases dealing with a substantial environmental question and acts covered under the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977; the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980; the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; the Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991 and the Biological Diversity Act, 2002. The acts covered under Indian Wild Life Protection Act 1972 do not fall within the jurisdiction of the National Green Tribunal. Appeals can be filed in the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India.


The Environmental Protection Law outlines the responsibilities of the Egyptian government to “preparation of draft legislation and decrees pertinent to environmental management, collection of data both nationally and internationally on the state of the environment, preparation of periodical reports and studies on the state of the environment, formulation of the national plan and its projects, preparation of environmental profiles for new and urban areas, and setting of standards to be used in planning for their development, and preparation of an annual report on the state of the environment to be prepared to the President."[33]


The influence of indigenous groups, from whom the concept of "Buen Vivir" originates, in the forming of the constitutional ideals also facilitated the incorporation of the Rights of Nature as a basic tenet of their culture and conceptualization of "Buen Vivir." [32]

The Rights of Nature articles in Ecuador's constitution are part of a reaction to a combination of political, economic, and social phenomena. Ecuador's abusive past with the oil industry, most famously the class-action litigation against Chevron, and the failure of an extraction-based economy and neoliberal reforms to bring economic prosperity to the region has resulted in the election of a New Leftist regime, led by President Rafael Correa, and sparked a demand for new approaches to development. In conjunction with this need, the principle of "Buen Vivir," or good living—focused on social, environmental and spiritual wealth versus material wealth—gained popularity among citizens and was incorporated into the new constitution.[31]

With the enactment of the 2008 Constitution, Ecuador became the first country in the world to codify the Rights of Nature. The Constitution, specifically Articles 10 and 71-74, recognizes the inalienable rights of ecosystems to exist and flourish, gives people the authority to petition on the behalf of ecosystems, and requires the government to remedy violations of these rights. The rights approach is a break away from traditional environmental regulatory systems, which regard nature as property and legalize and manage degradation of the environment rather than prevent it.[30]


According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, "China has been working with great determination in recent years to develop, implement, and enforce a solid environmental law framework. Chinese officials face critical challenges in effectively implementing the laws, clarifying the roles of their national and provincial governments, and strengthening the operation of their legal system."[26] Explosive economic and industrial growth in China has led to significant environmental degradation, and China is currently in the process of developing more stringent legal controls.[27] The harmonization of Chinese society and the natural environment is billed as one of the country's top national priorities.[28][29]


The Department of the Environment Act establishes the Department of the Environment in the Canadian government as well as the position Minister of the Environment. Their duties include “the preservation and enhancement of the quality of the natural environment, including water, air and soil quality; renewable resources, including migratory birds and other non-domestic flora and fauna; water; meteorology;"[24] The Environmental Protection Act is the main piece of Canadian environmental legislation that was put into place March 31, 2000. The Act focuses on “respecting pollution prevention and the protection of the environment and human health in order to contribute to sustainable development."[25] Other principle federal statutes include the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, and the Species at Risk Act. When provincial and federal legislation are in conflict federal legislation takes precedence, that being said individual provinces can have their own legislation such as Ontario's Environmental Bill of Rights, and Clean Water Act.


The Brazilian government created the Ministry of Environment in 1992 in order to develop better strategies of protecting the environment, use natural resources sustainably, and enforce public environmental policies. The Ministry of Environment has authority over policies involving environment, water resources, preservation, and environmental programs involving the Amazon.[23]


The Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 is the center piece of environmental legislation in the Australian Government. It sets up the “legal framework to protect and manage nationally and internationally important flora, fauna, ecological communities and heritage places”.[22] It also focuses on protecting world heritage properties, national heritage properties, wetlands of international importance, nationally threatened species and ecological communities, migratory species, Commonwealth marine areas, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and the environment surrounding nuclear activities.[22]



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