The doctrine of intergenerational equity in global environmental governance
University of British Columbia
Master of Laws - LLM
In the absence of binding international enforcement mechanisms, global environmental governance must rely on a legal framework that has widespread normative force around the world. In particular, any framework for global environmental governance must be consistent with two dominant organizing principles in human societies, those of Rights and Responsibility. In addition, such a framework should be sufficiently detailed and pragmatic to allow for effective implementation, should achieve the goal of environmental protection, and should be reasonable in terms of the level of sacrifice expected of the present generation (particularly in the developing world). This Thesis argues that the comprehensive doctrine of intergenerational equity is an effective and appropriate legal framework for global environmental governance. The doctrine of intergenerational equity posits the present generation of humans as simultaneously beneficiaries of the planetary legacy handed down from past generations, and trustees of that legacy for the future. The doctrine integrates the language of rights and responsibility, and incorporates viable implementation mechanisms. As a result, the doctrine of intergenerational equity is superior to the presently hegemonic paradigm of sustainable development. I conclude that the international community should adopt the doctrine of intergenerational equity as a framework for global environmental governance.
Law, Peter A. Allard School of