As the twentieth century draws to a close, the earth's physical and biological systems are under unprecedented strain. In many ways, all serious environmental threats are now international in scope, since nearly all forms of pollution, use of resources, and destabilization of natural ecosystems have implications for the sustainability of life as we know it.
The consumption of resources by one country or group of people ultimately affects other-and much larger-sections of the human population, including all those in future generations. Over the past three decades, the nations of the world have begun to deal on a global scale with many environmental threats, particularly through efforts to devise comprehensive agendas for safeguarding the environment while also promoting economic development.
The Global Environment, a timely new collection of essays, analyzes and assesses the state of international institutions, regimes, laws, and policies for the protection of the global environment at the close of the twentieth century. All essays have been written expressly for this volume or were adapted for firsttime publication in it. A distinguished international cast of contributors includes leading American and European academic experts on environmental politics, international law, and sustainable development policies. While providing a historical overview of the development of global and regional organizations and treaty agreements since World War II, the book focuses on implementation of "sustainable development" principles adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro in 1992.
An introductory chapter written by Norman J. Vig explains key terms and concepts, and summarizes each section of the text. Separate chapters cover the role of intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations, the changing nature of international law, the worldwide implementation of Agenda 21 for carrying out sustainable development globally, the environmental consequences of international trade agreements, and negotiations leading to the historic Kyoto Protocol on climate change signed in December 1997.
Four case studies examine sustainable development policies and controversial development projects within individual states that have significant international repercussions. From path-breaking national environmental planning in the Netherlands . . . to questions about democracy, human rights, and the future of energy development raised by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam in China and the Temelin Nuclear Power Plant in the Czech Republic . . . to the difficulties of implementing international environmental norms in developing countries as illustrated by the example of mining regulation in Indonesia, students will see the relationships between national, regional, and global levels of environmental policy.
The Global Environment may be used as a companion volume to Environmental Policy in the 1990s, edited by Norman J. Vig and Michael E. Kraft, a new fourth edition of which will be published by CQ Press in early August as Environmental Policy: New Directions for the Twenty-first Century.