Environmental law and governance as antecedent factors to sustainable development in developing states
Meissy Janet Naeku
In facing ever increasing complexities regarding our planet, people everywhere view environmental rights, environmental law and jurisprudence and environmental governance as becoming increasingly central to resolving problems of environmental justice. Admittedly, ‘governance’ has acquired the status of a hackneyed concept and has since 1990 been applied by institutions, states, policy-makers, researchers and other commentators to diverse ‘zones’ of human endeavor (Graham et al., 2013). When placed within the environmental context, the concept is generally defined as encompassing the relations and interplay among government and non-governmental entities, processes and normative frameworks, where powers and functions directly or indirectly influence the use, management and control of the environment. Environmental governance thus concerns how legal and policy decisions are made, with particular emphasis on participation by the human beings who will thereby be directly affected by the outcome of such decisions. Even though this concept originated within the purview of the international community’s concerted responses to the environmental challenges of the mid-1980s and the decades following, there has been an unmistakable recognition that international responses and initiatives would only thrive when effective normative, institutional and policy frameworks are established at the domestic level. This thinking has even gained added relevance through the prevalent idea that environmental governance holds the potential of promoting the goals of sustainable development. In connection with the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, Rio+20, UNEP organized the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability. Through the World Congress, over 250 of the world’s Chief Justices, Attorneys General and Auditors General seized a generational opportunity to contribute to the debates on the environment and declare that any diplomatic outcomes related to the environment and sustainable development, including from Rio+20, will remain unimplemented without adherence to the rule of law, without open, just and dependable legal orders. This paper explores the significance of environmental law and governance as key factors to sustainable development with particular focus on developing states where sustainable development remains elusive.