Environmental law is a relatively new but rapidly growing and expanding field of law, which aims at protecting the nature, natural resources, and total context within which they exist. Environmental law as it is known today is an amalgam of common law and statutory principles. In recent times, statutory revisions of common law propositions have undergone spectacular growth rates, whether measured by number of cases or actual and potential liabilities – in this case Uganda has been no exception. However, one of the greatest challenges of our age has been achieving sustainable development as defined in the World Commission on Environment and Development (WCED) Report as “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.” This definition emphasizes a combination of economic development and protection of the environment.
The old environmental law was inspired by the reductionist reasoning that it could and should stick to its defensive role, in other words, just prevent extremes of ruthless development, without in other respects intervening in economic policy. But in many ways reductionist thinking led to theoretical interpretation of the law and thus became an alibi for continuing ruthless development. Today, there has been a transformation in the international arena to an incorporation of the criteria for the protection of natural, cultural, and social capital in every policy whether public or private and systematic and guided thinking in decision making. All these are instrumental in the development of sustainable development.