Conservation and Management of Natural Resources
Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs
Given this definition, which was used in the UN report Our Common Future, sustainability can be seen as an idea associated with the use, conservation and management of natural resources for the benefit of future generations. Since the urgent call in this UN report for global hard work towards sustainable development to keep the earth liveable, the consensus on sustainable development in an international context has grown. Subsequently, the concept of sustainable development with legal principles for sustainable development also made its appearance in international statements, including the UN Rio de Janeiro Declaration on the environment and development. With the signing of this declaration by representatives of 179 states, sustainable development became an international legal principle. Since then, many developments have started, both among companies and citizens, especially local communities, towards a more sustainable society. Sustainability has thus become more than just an idea: it is also a perspective within which solutions can be sought.
In the coming decades, more than ever before, society must make a transition to a low-carbon, circular economy with sustainable water management and the preservation and improvement of biodiversity. Law plays an important role in this transition process. After all, the UN agreements were also given legal frameworks in Article 11 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) in order to actually achieve the agreed objectives. According to this article, environmental protection requirements must be integrated into the definition and implementation of Union policies and activities, in particular with a view to promoting sustainable development. At the national level, following the UN Declaration of Rio de Janeiro, the Dutch government linked the theme of sustainable development to the theme of the environment. In accordance with Article 4.3 paragraph 1 of the Environmental Management Act, the government therefore adopts a national environmental policy plan every four years, which according to paragraph 2 of the same article ‘is aimed at a development that meets the needs of the current generation, without endanger future generations ‘ability to meet their needs.’
From 2021, Dutch environmental law will also play an important role in the context of sustainability. An important part of this is the Environment Act (Ow).
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