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International Treaties and Customary International Law on Environmental Sustainability

Introduction

Advancements in the ability to recognise risks to the earth's environment and to appreciate its anthropogenic origins has engendered a concerted effort by governments and non-governmental organisations to ensure legal protection of the environment. The havoc that such activities wreak may often be irreversible and an acknowledgement of this reality helps to add momentum and urgency to the legal agenda for protecting the environment.

Given the plethora of regional and global environmental and developmental problems encountered - in the context of problems faced by the states of Glowland and Bolsover, transboundary air pollution engendering water pollution, the need to protect endangered species of flora and fauna, climate change and ozone layer depletion - the legal regime is an extensive one. Yet no straightforward resolution is available in light of the nature of policy issues brought about. These issues do not encompass exclusively environmental concerns but involve economic, social, political and cultural variables that create an inevitable need to prioritize competing claims. There are as many losers as winners on this international landscape and therefore questions of political economy, distribution of losses and the right to sustainable development are core features of the debate. It is to be assumed that the state of Glowland is a developed industrial nation whilst Bolsover relies upon its agricultural base. The competing interests of these nations are therefore stark.

In the context of Glowland and Bolsover facing cultural barriers, a general principle of international environmental law requiring that information be provided in certain situations may engender exchanges between the two states that will provide assistance in overcoming differences based upon culture or otherwise.

Conclusion

'The law is only one of the many social mechanisms, including family, school, church, peer groups, elites and the media, whose convergence is necessary to shape conduct'. The enormous breadth and complexity of issues concerning the environment and sustainability is overwhelming - as the foregoing discussion suggests.

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