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Part III Conceptual Pillars, Ch.17 Sustainable Development

Jorge E Viñuales

From: The Oxford Handbook of International Environmental Law (2nd Edition)

Edited By: Lavanya Rajamani, Jacqueline Peel

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 30 March 2023

Sustainable development

This chapter focuses on sustainable development, which is the main concept underpinning the policy response to the environmental crisis the world faces. It examines the concept of sustainable development specifically from the perspective of international law. The chapter investigates three main aspects: (1) the conceptual history of sustainable development; (2) the legal meaning attached to this concept; and, on the basis of these two aspects, also (3) the nature, functions, and practical operation of sustainable development in international legal practice. One major challenge that must be overcome when writing about sustainable development is the conceptual fog coating a large part of the work in this area. This is partly due to the deliberate vagueness of the concept, which lends itself to far too many (mis-)interpretations. To navigate this difficulty, one must strike a balance among three competing considerations, namely the conceptual aspects of sustainable development, the actual practice in the use of this concept, and its inherent ethical dimension.

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