Volume 1: Issue 1 (2005)

Introductory Note: Sustainable Development and the Law / Le développement durable et le droit

Hon. Charles Gonthier

Introductory Note: The Role of Government and Policy in Sustainable Development

Richard Ballhorn

In Search of the Holy Grail of Environmental Law: A Rule to Solve the Problem

Bruce Pardy

Abstract: There is widespread resistance to the use of generally applicable rules in environmental law. Such rules are thought impossible; and if not impossible, then certainly undesirable. This consensus is one of the main obstacles to progress in ecosystem protection, as it prevents environmental law from becoming a rigorous, coherent, predictable discipline, and from being able to stem the tide of ecological deterioration. Modern environmental law consists of nebulous, discretionary concepts and lists of narrow prohibitions for specific situations. Neither is based upon an abstract definition of sustainability in ecological terms. Consequently, the size of the human footprint upon ecosystems continues to grow. If environmental matters were to be governed by a single, generally applicable rule, what would it say? In this article, the author develops a rule that defines an environmental bottom line and respects established legal norms. The first step identifies an ecological limit for society as a whole. The second articulates a rule that proscribes individual behaviour, such that the combined impact of all individual actions would be within the limit identified in the first step.

L’Avant-projet de loi sur le développement durable du Québec

Paule Halley

Abstract: The presentation of the Quebec Sustainable Development Plan and the draft bill on sustainable development represents an important step in the provincial strategy to change the manner in which government functions in order to better reconcile government action and politics with the imperatives of sustainable development. The author examines the program of the Quebec government and the new legal regime introduced by the draft bill on sustainable development. This reform includes a framework and procedure for the elaboration and monitoring of a government strategy designed to implement sustainable development, a verification procedure to follow the progress achieved by the creation of an independent sustainable development commissioner, the introduction, in the Quebec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, of a new human right to a healthy environment that is respectful of biodiversity, and, finally, the creation of a green fund. The author reflects on the principal elements of the debate surrounding the adoption of these legal regimes.

Book Review: "Law as Local Knowledge?"

Dayna Nadine Scott

Reviewed: Earthly Politics: Local and Global in Environmental Governance, edited by Sheila Jasanoff and Marybeth Martello (Cambridge, MA: London, UK: MIT Press, 2004) 350 pp.


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