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Slavery, in the form of ‘debt-bondage’, is rife in Indian brick kilns, where the enforcement of labour laws is poor. Working equids support brick-kiln workers by transporting raw bricks into the kilns, but the situation of equids and their owners within the brick kilns is relatively unknown. We describe the welfare of donkeys (Equus asinus) owned under conditions of debt-bondage, examine the links between owner and donkey behaviour, and outline the living conditions of both donkeys and humans working in the brick kilns of Gujarat, India. We then explore the unique experience of debt-bondage by donkey owners, compare migration trends to those of non-donkey-owning workers and assess impacts on their children’s education. The physical and behavioural conditions of donkeys reflected that of their owners, creating negative feedback loops and potentially reducing productivity. All donkey owners experienced debt-bondage and were particularly vulnerable to unexpected financial loss. Donkey owners, unlike non-owners, migrated within their home state, enabling their children to attend school. Our work highlights the need for policy reform within the brick-kiln industry to acknowledge the pivotal role of working donkeys in supporting human livelihoods.
Relationships between extractive industries and local northern communities are under intensive discussion. Scenarios are a way to explore uncertain futures and have been used for envisioning potential consequences of climate-related and political changes in the Arctic. However, existing Arctic scenarios do not target the relationship between extractive industries and local communities. By combining a review of published scenarios with insights from a series of scenario workshops carried out across Nordic Arctic, we have identified a series of wild cards that would have major implications for relations between extractive projects and local communities. By connecting these to existing general scenario archetypes, we enrich the established scenario narratives on plausible Arctic futures. We furthermore suggest linking participatory scenario exercises with efforts to elucidate the impacts of different drivers of change to examine the social-ecological-technological systems in which mining and local communities are embedded. Such efforts would be relevant for developing a more robust and anticipatory/proactive knowledge base for making political decisions about extractive industries.
The Rights of Nature concept not only breaks with the anthropocentrism of existing (environmental) law; it also recognizes that nature has private interests, in addition to being of public interest. That is, whereas in classic sustainability thinking, the use of certain resources is allowed as long as public interests are not systematically/systemically harmed, rights of nature facilitate the protection of nature before planetary boundaries are transgressed. This recognition of nature as having private interests enables the framing of disagreements around ‘nature’ as matters of corrective justice, which renders the application of private legal doctrines more easily conceivable and arguably even necessary.
The contributions to this Symposium Collection showcase the viability of the intersection of private law and rights of nature. Firstly, it is necessary to research how existing private law will influence the effectiveness of rights of nature. Such an exercise is undertaken by Björn Hoops, who carefully assesses what rights for the German Black Forest would mean in terms of German constitutional property law. The mirror image of this approach is to explore what impact Rights of Nature will have on private law. Such an approach is taken by Alex Putzer and co-authors in their article on the transformation of land-ownership regimes after the introduction of Rights of Nature in Ecuador and Uganda. A third line of scholarship assesses the significance of Rights of Nature for private law theory: Visa Kurki proposes a new concept of legal personhood, prompting us to think through the meaning of statements like ‘a river is a legal person’.
The socioeconomics of the Anthropocene is exposing coastal regions to multiple pressures, including climate change hazards, resource degradation, urban development and inequality. Tourism is often raised as either a panacea to, or exacerbator of, such threats to ecosystems and sustainable livelihoods. To better understand the impacts of tourism on coastal areas, Scopus and Web of Science databases were searched for the top 100 cited papers on coastal tourism. Web of Science suggested ‘highly cited’ papers were also included to allow for more recent high-impact papers. Of the papers retrieved, 44 focused on the impacts of tourism. Social/cultural and environmental impacts were viewed as mostly negative, while economic impacts were viewed as mostly positive but only of actual benefit to a few. In addition, when compared with recent whole-of-sector reviews and reports it was evident that coastal tourism is increasingly a global enterprise dominated by large corporations that leverage various interests across local to transnational scales. Through this global enterprise, even the positive economic benefits identified were overshadowed by a broader system of land and property development fuelling local wealth inequity and furthering the interests of offshore beneficiaries. Only two highly cited papers discussed tourism within a broader context of integrated coastal zone management, suggesting that tourism is mostly assessed as a discrete sector within the coastal zone and peripheral to other coastal management considerations or the global tourism sector as a whole. The findings have relevance to the holistic management of coasts, coastal tourism and the achievement of sustainable development goals in a way that considers the increasing threats from coastal hazards, resource extraction and urbanisation, as well as the pervasive impacts of international business systems from local to global scales.
This article traces the various legal incarnations of the intergenerational equity principle. Despite its silent proliferation in international and constitutional laws over the past five decades, the principle dwelled mostly at the margins of inquiry and practice. Recent efforts to counteract global warming have allowed intergenerational claims to gain new traction. Building on a comparison of ten climate-related lawsuits, I analyze the latest advances in the representation, conceptualization, and remediation of future generations’ interests. Against the backdrop of growing willingness to engage with intergenerational disputes, legal decision makers will need to confront two thorny challenges going forward. Firstly, evolving doctrines of extraterritoriality and legal subjecthood increasingly require the protective scope of the principle to extend to foreign citizens and non-human persons. Secondly, awareness of dispersed and interlocked long-term risks may trigger the application of intergenerational doctrines beyond a narrow environmental frame. Grappling with these challenges implicates larger reflections about the role of law in contriving our collective future.
A confluence of crises, including the COVID-19 pandemic, is exacerbating inequalities in many countries around the world, leaving Africans particularly vulnerable to hunger, unemployment, and worsening poverty. The climate emergency reinforces these inequalities and vulnerabilities. Globally, the need for an environmental rights-based approach to sustainable development, founded on principles of equity, has received increasing attention. In Africa specifically, more work needs to be done to integrate rights into environmental and climate frameworks and support communities in protecting their territories and stopping violations. Climate cases, supported by international human rights frameworks, have increasingly asserted environmental rights, in response to the need for intergenerational justice and to protect communities from the threats of climate change. Three court cases from Kenya and South Africa, Save Lamu, Earthlife Africa, and PHA Food and Farming Campaign, all driven by grassroots campaigns, illustrate how climate change concerns have been successfully brought before the courts and how these judgments set a hopeful precedent for other communities.
This chapter contends that international law is structured in ways that systemically reinforce ecological harm. Through exploring the cultural milieu from which international environmental law emerged, we argue it produced an impoverished understanding of nature incapable of responding adequately to ecological crises. Many of international law’s basic concepts, such as sovereignty, jurisdiction, territory, development and human rights, have evolved in trajectories unsuited to perceiving or respecting ecological limits. International law treats nature as a resource for wealth generation and environmental degradation as an economic externality to be managed through special regimes. This chapter traces the coevolution of such assumptions about nature alongside formative disciplinary concepts, arguing that such understandings have been central to making international law, and that the discipline helps universalise and normalise them. Thus, to engage with environmental challenges, disciplinary tenets would have to evolve in directions that radically transform the nature of law.
Development, and particularly sustainable development, face a growing threat of being undermined by a changing climate, particularly through the impacts of frequent and extreme weather events. It is common knowledge that disasters can wipe out and set back development gains. Conversely, the social, political, economic, and environmental development decisions, options, and the paths chosen, contribute to an increase in inequality, poverty, environmental degradation, vulnerability, and exposure to hazards. Unfortunately, global commitments to deliver the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) development planning and programming still do not adequately consider or act upon these risks. Despite advances in linking DRR, CCA, and development, albeit conceptually, there is not much progress on how integration should be carried out. In 2015, three important UN agreements, (1) the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction; (2) the Paris Agreement for Climate Change, and (3) the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, were adopted. These three agreements brought coherency on how to reduce the risk and impacts of disasters thus making development gains sustainable. The disparities of locating CCA within environmental authorities, DRR within disaster management authorities, civil service and home affairs, and addressing sustainable development goals through different sectors impede such endeavors to address disaster risk and the negative consequences of disasters coherently. This, in turn, undermines sustainable development. Despite the identified differences between DRR and CCA, they are complementary development issues. Addressing disaster and climate risks to achieve sustainable development goals requires close coordination among the different organizations and sectors. It requires working coherently, avoiding duplication, and taking advantage of synergies and co-benefits in their actions. By examining how interorganizational theory conceptualizes integration, the chapter will provide a theoretical grounding for integrating DRR and CCA, taking into consideration sustainable development, by proposing an analytical framework to integrate the three policy areas.
For those troubled by environmental harm on a global scale and its deeply unequal effects, this book explains how international law structures ecological degradation and environmental injustice while claiming to protect the environment. It identifies how central legal concepts such as sovereignty, jurisdiction, territory, development, environment, labour and human rights make inaccurate and unsustainable assumptions about the natural world and systemically reproduce environmental degradation and injustice. To avert socioecological crises, we must not only unpack but radically rework our understandings of nature and its relationship with law. We propose more sustainable and equitable ways to remake law's relationship with nature by drawing on diverse disciplines and sociocultural traditions that have been marginalized within international law. Influenced by Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL), postcolonialism and decoloniality, and inspired by Indigenous knowledges, cosmology, mythology and storytelling, this book lays the groundwork for an epistemological shift in the way humans conceptualize the relationship between law and nature.
The final chapter brings the insights of the book together under the overarching question of whether the Sustainable Development Goals have had any political impact after their adoption in 2015. The chapter draws the conclusion that the Sustainable Development Goals have so far had only limited effects in global, national and local governance. We mainly see discursive effects of the goals with some normative and institutional effects as well. The global goals have however not (yet) become a transformative force in and of themselves. Their effects are neither linear nor unidirectional. While the 2030 Agenda and the 17 goals with their 169 targets constitute a strong set of normative guidelines, their national implementation, translation to the local level, and dissemination across societal sectors remain a political process.
Written by an international team of over sixty experts and drawing on over three thousand scientific studies, this is the first comprehensive global assessment of the political impact of the Sustainable Development Goals, which were launched by the United Nations in 2015. It explores in detail the political steering effects of the Sustainable Development Goals on the UN system and the policies of countries in the Global North and Global South; on institutional integration and policy coherence; and on the ecological integrity and inclusiveness of sustainability policies worldwide. This book is a key resource for scholars, policymakers and activists concerned with the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, and those working in political science, international relations and environmental studies. It is one of a series of publications associated with the Earth System Governance Project. For more publications, see www.cambridge.org/earth-system-governance. This title is also available as Open Access on Cambridge Core.
Sovereign Wealth Funds are government investment vehicles that have been present for decades. They are usually characterized by minimum information disclosure, however, this situation differed after worldwide events shed light on the role they possess to mitigate their downturns. The substantial economic influence they bring along due to their size and long term impact have recently created an uproar of debate that eventually led to the ratification of the Santiago Principles. The Principles set the stage for governing SWFs' operations and grant them more clarity. They also contribute to a more stable environment for cross-border investment flows. With the importance of SWFs, emerging economies also rose as key institutional investors; only this time they called for harnessing their funds towards sustainable development investment strategies. Despite pressuring need to improve transparency and governance structures of SWFs in EMs, the former are regarded as promising means for achieving the sustainable development goals.
Vastly increased transnational business activity in recent decades has been accompanied by controversy over how to cope with its social and environmental impacts. The most prominent policy response thus far consists of international guidelines. We investigate to what extent and why citizens in a high-income country are willing to restrain companies to improve environmental and social conditions in other countries. Exploiting a real-world referendum in Switzerland, we use choice and vignette experiments with a representative sample of voters (N = 3,010) to study public demand for such regulation. Our results show that citizens prefer strict and unilateral rules (with a substantial variation of preferences by general social and environmental concern) while correctly assessing their consequences. Moreover, exposure to international norms increases demand for regulation. These findings highlight that democratic accountability can be a mechanism that motivates states to contribute to collective goods even if not in their economic interest and that awareness of relevant international norms among citizens can enhance this mechanism.
Chapter 13 focuses on sustainable development in contemporary Latin America and, more specifically, on the impact of neoextractivism–the exploitation of primary products–on the quality of life of the communities where this economic activity is based. It shows that, although neoextractivism has led to short-term economic growth, it has also created environmental damage that has been especially detrimental to indigenous peoples and the rural poor. It explores protests against neoextractivism through case studies of Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru, and shows that affected communities had some success in ameliorating the negative consequences of neoextractivism only in Bolivia. Finally, to explain the impact of protests it highlights several factors. Democratic institutions and decentralization create incentives for greater accountability at the local level. Moreover, in some cases, the mobilizational strength and political coordination of local communities leads to collective action. However, the impact of protests is reduced most critically because leaders across the political spectrum have been committed to neoextractivism and have co-opted the mechanism of prior consultation.
The Ouadi Rimé–Ouadi Achim Reserve (Réserve de l'Ouadi Rimé–Ouadi Achim) in central Chad supports large numbers of livestock and rare antelopes, and is the site of ongoing reintroductions of the scimitar-horned oryx Oryx dammah and addax Addax nasomaculatus. We present results of surveys conducted during 2011–2019 to examine patterns of relative abundance and distribution of dorcas gazelles Gazella dorcas, dama gazelles Nanger dama and livestock in relation to each other and to water sources in a 3,500 km2 area in the centre of the Reserve. Dorcas gazelles numbered 7,700–18,000, moving extensively across the area. Livestock varied between c. 2,000 and 68,000 tropical livestock units across surveys, with density doubling in the wet season. Dorcas gazelle distribution was negatively associated with livestock, and livestock density was positively associated with artificial water sources. Dorcas gazelle densities were positively associated with locations where there had been wild fires in the 6 months prior to a survey. Dama gazelles were encountered only 13 times, insufficient to estimate their population size reliably. Opportunistic observations suggest dama gazelles avoid livestock and burnt ground. Our findings highlight the importance of the Reserve. We recommend the designation of a large, well-managed conservation priority zone in the Reserve's core area in which no further development of water resources is permitted. Management of livestock numbers within this zone at or below current levels is essential to integrate national goals for both biodiversity conservation and pastoralism development.
In the wake of the ‘golden age’ of economic growth in the early 1970s, public provision of urban infrastructure came under the close scrutiny of governments seeking to reduce the size of their bureaucracies in the face of expanding budgets, rising prices, and increasing unemployment. Australian governments and water utilities followed the UK and USA by introducing price mechanisms to attain more efficient water use. This coincided with severe droughts that affected urban water supplies and led state governments to impose residential water restrictions, save for Brisbane, where catastrophic floods in 1974 reminded residents of their vulnerability to the elements. Growing concern for the environment, as well as the implications of environmental degradation for human health, meant that the sights, smells, and sounds of the Australian suburbs were on the eve of change. The use of suburban waterways as drains for industrial and domestic waste would no longer be tolerated, as local residents campaigned to protect built and natural environments from pollution and development projects. Such health and ecological concerns collided with the neoliberal reform agenda of the 1990s, when newly restructured water utilities faced a series of crises in their provision of water and disposal of wastes.
This chapter focuses on the environmental diplomacy surrounding the World Commission on Environment and Development, popularly known as the “Brundtland Commission.” This process popularized the concept of sustainable development. The chapter begins by detailing the substantial changes seen in international environmental conditions through the mid-1980s, brought about largely by the Third World Debt crisis. These shifts created a rapidly deteriorating global environmental context and necessitated significant changes in institutional arrangements. The need for institutional change was a central finding of the important 1987 “Brundtland report,” titled Our Common Future. The Brundtland Commission highlighted a rapid deterioration in the world environment and underlined the need for major institutional change. Some actors sought to realize such change at the United Nations General Assembly in 1987, when the report and its call for action were presented to world leaders. Coordination was hindered, however, by divergent expectations and the absence of a Temporal Focal Point. While states were incentivized to cooperate rapidly to address problems in global environmental governance, the institutional status quo prevailed.
The conclusion summarizes and discusses the principal findings of the book, highlighting the role of temporal coordination dilemmas and Temporal Focal Points in patterns of continuity and change in international institutions. After relating these findings to other theoretical approaches, the chapter discusses the theoretical implications of the analysis contained in this book for the study of change in international institutions. The chapter provides an extended discussion of policy implications, including how international actors can employ the logic of temporal coordination in modernizing global institutions in the current international setting. It concludes with an analysis of the current context in global environmental and sustainable development politics, analyzing progress in combatting global challenges, such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity, and implementing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It argues that the international community has incentives to realize institutional change and that a Temporal Focal Point could soon emerge.
This chapter focuses on the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED), the Rio “Earth Summit.” It shows how, despite incentives to address institutional dysfunction and mounting global environmental problems by institutionalizing sustainable development within the United Nations system, divergent expectations persisted until momentum built toward UNCED. The Rio conference, which marked the twentieth anniversary of the 1972 Stockholm conference, emerged as a Temporal Focal Point in United Nations environmental politics. Convergent expectations triggered a significant increase in political and analytical investments in change processes from state and non-state actors, leading to a transformation of the informational and political context. These investments produced significant institutional change, including the creation of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD) and the institutionalization of the World Bank-operated Global Environment Facility. States also launched the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity, a set of Forest Principles, and the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification.
This chapter analyzes United Nations environmental politics from 1993 to 2021, focusing heavily on the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), or the “Johannesburg summit,” and the 2012 “Rio+20” United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (UNCSD). The chapter examines the institutional ambiguities created by the 1992 Rio “Earth Summit” and international efforts to address them. It analyzes in detail failed institutional bargaining surrounding WSSD and carries the empirical investigation forward to the Rio+20 summit. The second Rio Earth Summit constituted a Temporal Focal Point in the history of United Nations environment governance and precipitated large-scale institutional change. Among the significant institutional changes emerging from the conference were the transformation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the creation of a High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF), and the approval of a process for articulating the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the 2030 Agenda. The chapter also provides a brief discussion of more recent UN environmental cooperation, focusing on UNEP, the HLPF, and the SDGs, including progress in combatting climate change and the loss of biodiversity.