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Paper on Intergenerational Equity Need for Development on Sustainable Basis.

In the ambit of Developing nexus between Trade Liberalization and Environment Protection.

10th Justa Causa National Seminar.

Developing nexus between Trade Liberalization and Environment Protection.

Gone are the days when Industrial Developmental and environmental issues were considered as conflicting objectives. Now stakeholders of company have understood the importance of environment protection and are supporting companies following environmental friendly processes. Thus, companies are looking forward to maintaining ecological balance to impress their consumers and maximize wealth of shareholders.

Trade liberalization is increasing in all countries by lessening strict rules for international trades. But it has not benefited all regions of the world or all layers of society in an equal manner. There is in fact an increasing and troublesome split between a group of middle income developing countries and developed countries. Developed countries are successful participants in global trade and a nearly 80 developing and transition economies comprising over one third of world population are virtually excluded from benefits thereof.

In earlier days, it was assumed that in procedure of industrial growth, environmental damage is incidental and no efforts were taken to minimize the same. Eventually it gave rise to major environmental problems and to sort this out industrial development and environmental protection joined hands.

Now it is accepted that development shall be carried out uniformly and in environment friendly manner. But some hazardous industries are essential constituent of developmental procedure. Therefore more strict regimes were applied on such hazardous industries by inserting provisions in various laws in India and overall globe such as:  

a. Factories Act 1948 included strict rules for the occupier of the Factory.

b. Environment (Protection) Act 1986 specified definition of hazardous substance, occupier, and gave special powers to inspecting authority.

c. Union Carbide corporation V. Union of India AIR 1990 SC 273 introduced the principle of Absolute Liability.

d. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was introduced which is to identify and evaluate the potential of development projects on the environmental system.

e. Environmental Performance Index (EPI) was formed which is method of quantifying and numerically benchmarking environmental performance.

f. Concept of environmental audit is also introduced as management tool in industries.

It is evident from the above facts that special reforms for hazardous industries are paving way for Environmental Protection along with Trade liberalization in India. Intergenerational Equity and Sustainable development are some of the principles discovered to achieve object of Trade Liberalization along with Environmental Protection.

Intergenerational Equity – Need for development on Sustainable Basis

Generally in a family, some savings are kept with the view of serving emergencies. Such savings are bequeathed by generations to next generations to ease their difficulties. But following generations also follow the tradition of saving and even if such savings are used in urgent situations the next generation is left with some amount. But if one generation breaks this tradition of saving and blows off all savings, take huge loans then coming generation also suffers from those loan repayment. This is injustice with the next generation. Similarly, if we replace the act of present generation taking loan by present generation exploiting all natural resources and disturbing ecological balance, coming generations will face the consequences which will not be justifiable. Thus, the concept of Intergenerational Equity evolved.

Equity as we all know signifies impartiality or similarity. The word ‘Equity’ in business language means funds or capital. According to me, the word ‘Equity’ in ‘Intergenerational equity’ borrows both the meanings of ‘Equity’. Equity signifies availability of resources to all generations and also treats Natural Resources as funds for development for generations to come. The Intergenerational equity can be defined as endowed institution's spending rate must not exceed its after-inflation rate of compound return, so that investment gains are spent equally on current and future constituents of the endowed assets. It can be deduced as idea of justice and fairness in relationships between children, youth, adults and seniors, particularly in terms of treatment and interactions.

It is true that without using natural resources development is not possible. Concept of Intergenerational equity promotes the use of resources in optimal manner. It limits present generation from using the resources to the exhausting level so that future generation can also get a chance of using those natural resources. Natural resources are not owned by any human being or for that matter any human generation and they cannot be recreated by humans; they must be utilized by all generations equitably.

The need for Intergenerational equity arose because of following three main reasons:

1. Pollution disturbing Ecological Balance: Ecological Balance is must for smooth procedure of recreation of natural resources by nature. But stepping stones towards development are the main reasons behind disturbed ecological balance. While growth of Industrialization, environment protection was considered as hurdle in its path and no measures were taken to minimize the pollution so caused by growing industries. Apart from Industrial activities, human activities are also contributing to various types of pollutions such as Air Pollution, Water Pollution, Noise Pollution, Land Pollution, etc. Natural resources are getting polluted in every possible way due to human activities.

2. Loss of Biodiversity: Biodiversity can be referred as variety of life forms. Various forms of life due to genetically combinations, species and also ecosystem are covered under biodiversity. Bio diversity helps in protection of water resources, nutrient storage and cycling, climate stability, maintenance of ecosystem. But these benefits are not widely known and there was no specific effort taken to prevent bio diversity. This resulted in diminishing of many species of birds, animals and affecting ecological system.

3. Excessive and Reckless Use of Natural Resources: We all know that natural resources are very scarce and they can be recreated only by nature which may require over hundreds of years. Present generation is using every possible modern gadget to ease their life. Such gadgets use power which is directly or indirectly generated from natural resources. Present generation is using natural resources in excess and up to exhausting level. This gave alarming signals to whole world and resulted in evolution of concept which emphasize saving of natural resources for future generations who also have equal rights over natural resources available in the world.

The intergenerational equity explored in field of environment by introducing the concept of saving resources for future generation which paved path for Sustainable Development.

The development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs is described as Sustainable development, it is a pattern of growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come. It’s a buzz word in today’s era. All countries have included word ‘sustainable’ in their developmental objectives. Sustainable development is defined by the Brundtland Commission as development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainable Development - Need of the hour

We want the fastest, most efficient and convenient sources of transport to facilitate our development. We want the best machines to churn out goods at the speed of sound. We require the best communication facilities, the best buildings, and the best bridges. Growth, development and profit – these are the motivational forces in today’s fast paced world.

All the demands of developing and developed nations require the manipulation of natural resources. No economy can survive without coal, petroleum, electricity, wood and steel. The world is now confronted with the challenge of optimizing the use of the currently available resources in a way to meet the needs of the present generation without compromising on the requirements of the future generation. To add to this, now it is also imperative that our fragile environment suffers the least damage possible. In more technical terms, sustainable development is the need of the hour.

The future of our planet depends on our use of the available resources. This does not mean that we stall all progress to save the resources for our future generation. This calls for efficient use of non-renewable resources. Wastage of such resources must be minimized and alternative sources should be made more feasible for even the common man. By shifting the energy burden from non-renewable to renewable resources, we can stand up to the challenges of the future.

To address the issue of sustainable development from its root causes, many conventions were held worldwide and Regulation guidelines were prepared. They can be summarized as follows:

* The first step towards international environmental issues was taken in 1972 at Stockholm in United Nations Conference on Human Environment. United Nations Environment Programme was established which initiated formation of many laws in various countries relating to environmental protection.

* Rio Summit which is popularly known as Earth Summit was held in 1992 in which Agenda 21 was passed which was in the form of some principles such as equitable utilization of natural resources, polluter pays, etc. which countries in the summit agreed to follow.

* WWF (World Wide Foundation) is formed for protecting the world’s wildlife, endangered species, etc. They are conservation leaders for more than 39 years.

* BASEL Convention on Trans boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal was held in 1989 made environmentally sound management prerequisite in Tran boundary movement of wastes.

* Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997 by 37 countries. It sets binding targets for 37 countries for reducing greenhouse gas emission. Protocol places a heavier burden on developed nations. Market based mechanism allow developed parties to earn and trade emission credits.

* Recently a summit was held in New Delhi Sustainable Development to discuss the issues of renewable energy, biodiversity, water and climate change, etc.

* Apart from this many conventions on issues such as Preservation of Wetlands, Sea Water, Marine lives, Trail Smelter Arbitration were passed which focused on root causes of need of sustainable development such as bio diversity conservation, ecological system’s balance, etc.


Intergenerational Equity is required due to undue human interference in natural systems. It can be achieved through development on sustainable basis. An important step towards this path is formation and implementation of proper Trade policy. Trade Policy has a vital role to play in actively supporting environmentally friendly trade. Trade related instruments should be further encouraged to act as a driver for providing incentives to more sustainable trade flows. Trade tools could, for instance, be instrumental in making tangible progress towards more sustainable consumption and production patterns. Economic instruments also need to be more actively developed, notably with a view to allow for the necessary internalization of external environmental costs. For example now days, companies are including sustainable reporting in their Annual Reports in order to attract shareholders who are aware of its importance. Many treaties are formed for giving companies standard benchmarks which they can achieve in sustainable reporting. In addition, positive synergies between trade, environment and development should be further considered, particularly regarding the elimination of environmentally damaging subsidies and the promotion of environmentally friendly goods and services, with a special focus on those originating in Developing Countries. We the members of present generation, we hold the earth in trust for future generations and sustainable development will help us achieve the same.

By: Madhura Ubale

2nd Semester, L.L.B (3 Years)

Dr. B. A. Collage of Law(Main Branch)

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