My Study: As each inhabitant of the earth has a right to live in a healthy environment, it makes environmental awareness internationally essential. Ernst Hackel, in 1869, kindled the era of environmental awareness in the world. Since then, several attempts have been made at international as well as national level to protect and improve the quality of environment.
The first ever international convention on environment was held at London in 1933. The focal theme of the convention was ‘Preservation of Fauna and Flora’ and it was attended by representatives of 60 nations. Since then more than 130 international agreements on environment have been signed and more than 115 countries have setup National Environmental Institutes. The United Nations has established the United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) to stimulate environmental work.
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WHO, FAO, ILO, IAEO, OECD and EC have shown great concern in the improvement of environmental quality. The two most important milestones in the international efforts towards environment have been the 1972 Stockholm Conference and the 1992 Rio-de-Janeiro (Brazil) Earth Summit.
Principle 1 of the Stockholm Declaration is called the Magna Carta of Environment. It declared, (a) every man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity, and (b) every body has the responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generation. The Earth Summit, 1992 which was attended by more than 100 world leaders and 30,000 delegates
from 178 countries, laid down 27 principles (known as Agenda for 21st century) which are reproduced below:
Principle 1. Human beings are at the center of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.
Principle 2. States have in accordance with the charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to exploit their own resources pursuant to their own environmental and development policies, and the responsibility to ensure that activities with their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to the environment of other States or of areas beyond the limits of national jurisdiction.
Principle 3. The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet development and environmental needs of present and future generations.
Principle 4. In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it
Principle 5. All States and all people shall cooperate in the essential task of eradicating poverty as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development, in order to decrease the disparities in standards of living and better meet the needs of the majority of the people of the world.
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Principle 6. The special situation and needs of developing countries, particularly the least developed and those most environmentally vulnerable, shall be given special priority. International actions in the field of environment and development should also address the interests and needs of all countries.
Principle 7. States shall cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the earth’s ecosystem. In view of the different contributions to global environmental degradation, States have common but differentiated responsibilities.
The developed countries acknowledge the responsibility that they bear in the international pursuit of sustainable development in view of the pressures their societies place on the global environment and of the technologies and financial resources they command.
Principle 8. To achieve sustainable development and a higher quality of life for all people, States should reduce and eliminate unsustainable patterns of production and consumption and promote appropriate demographic policies.
Principle 9. States should cooperate to strengthen endogenous capacity-building for sustainable development by improving scientific understanding through exchanges of scientific and technological knowledge, and by enhancing the development, adaptation, diffusion and transfer of technologies including new and innovative technologies.
Principle 10. Environmental issues are best handled with the participation of all concerned citizens, at the relevant level. At the national level, each individual shall have appropriate access to information concerning the environment that is held by public authorities, inlcuding information on hazardous materials and activities in their communities and the opportunity to participate in processes.
States shall facilitate and encourage public awareness and participation by making information widely available. Effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, shall be provided.
Principle 11. States shall enact effective environmental legislation. Environmental standards. management objectives and priorities should reflect the envriornmental and developmental context to which they apply. Standards applied by some countries may be inappropriate and of unwarranted economic and social cost to other countries, in particular developing countries.
Principle 12. States should cooperate to promote a supportive and open international economic system that would lead to economic growth and sustainable development in all countries, to better address the problems of environmental degradation.
Trade policy measures for environmental purposes should not constitute a means of arbitrary or unjustifiable discrimination or a disguised restriction on international trade. Unilateral actions to deal with environmental challenges outside the justification of the importing country should be avoided.
Environmental measures addressing trans-boundary or global environmental problems should, as far as possible, be based on an international consensus.
Principle 13. State shall develop national law regarding liability and compensation for the victims of pollution and other environmental damage. States shall also co-operate in an expeditious and more determined manner to develop further international law regarding liability and compensation for adverse effects of environmental damage caused by activities within their jurisdiction or control to areas beyond their jurisdiction.
Principle 14. States should effectively cooperate to discourage or prevent the relocation and transfer to other States of any activities and substances that cause severe environmental degradation of ro found to be harmful to human health.
Principle 15. In order to protect the environment, the precautionary approach shall be widely applied by States according to their capabilities. Where there are threats of serious or reversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing co-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation.
Principle 16. National authorities should endeavor to promote the internationalization of environmental costs and the use of economic instruments, taking into account the approach that the polluter should, in principle, bear the cost of pollution, with due regard to the public interest and without international trade and investment.
Principle 17. Environmental impact assessment, as a national instrument, shall be undertaken Re proposed activities that are likely to have a significant adverse impact on the environment and are subject to a decision of competent national authority.
Principle 18. State shall immediately notify other states of any natural disasters or other emergencies that are likely to produce sudden harmful effects on the environment of those States. Every effort shall be made by the international community to help States so afflicted.
Principle 19. States shall provide prior and timely notification and relevant information to potentially affected States on activities that may have a significant adverse trans boundary environmental effect and shall consult with those States at an early stage and in good faith.
Principle 20. Women have a vital role in environmental management and development. Their fall participation is, therefore, essential to achieve sustainable development.
Principle 21. The creativity, ideals of courage of the youth of the world should be mobilized to forge a global partnership in order to achieve sustainable development and ensure a better future for all.
Principle 22.Indigenous people and their communities and other local communities have a vital role in environmental management and development because of their knowledge and traditional practices. States should recognize and duly support their identity, culture and interests and enable their effective participation in the achievement of sustainable development.
Principle 23. The environment and natural resources of people under oppression, domination and occupation shall be protected.
Principle 24. Warfare is inherently destructive of sustainable development. States shall, therefore, respect international law providing protection for the environment in times of armed conflict and cooperate in its further development, as necessary.
Principle 25 Peace, development and environmental protection are inter-dependent and invisible.
Principle 26. States shall resolve all their environmental disputes peacefully and by appropriate means in accordance with the charter of the United Nations.
Principle 27. States and people shall cooperate in good faith and in a spirit of partnership in the fulfillment of the principles embodied in this declaration and in the further development of international law in the field of sustainable development.
The above declaration was adopted by 178 countries at the behest of United Nations. Most of the participating nations, including India have already initiated follow up action in their countries, Several government organisations, departments and non-government social and political organisations in India are working for the protection and environmental awareness.
Chipko Movement, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Tehri Project etc. are some of the major environmental awareness movements that have generated environmental consciousness in India. Environmental education has also been introduced as a subject by various universities in our country. However, everyone of us has to contribute in conserving and improving the environment with self styled responsibilities to be fixed over by our own moral values.
Environmental Legislation In India – My Study
The Government of India has already enacted more than 200 laws dealing with various aspects of environmental management as a follow up action of the Stockholm Conference and the Earth Summit. Some of the most important laws are mentioned below:
1. The Factories Act, 1948.
2. The Protection Act, 1972
3. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974.
4. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Cess Act, 1977
5. The Forest Conservation Act, 1980.
6. The (Prevention and Control Pollution) Act, 1981.
7. The Environment Protection Act, 1986.
8. The Factories Act, 1988
9. The Public Liability Insurance Act, 1991
10. The National Environment Tribunal Act, 1995.
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