Rights of the Future against the Present
Inter-generational equity is among the newest norms of international environmental law. This principle maintains that the present generation has a moral obligation to manage the earth in a manner that will not jeopardize the aesthetic and economic welfare of the forthcoming generation.
The principle of inter-generational equity, in simple terms means that “the current generation should make sure that the health, diversity and productivity of the environment continues for the benefit of future generations.”
In view of Edith Brown Weiss “the basic concept is that all generations are partners caring for and using the earth. The present generation must pass the earth and our natural and cultural resources on in at least as good condition as it received them so they can meet their own needs.”
Environmental inequities, in view of Sharon Beder, already exist in all societies. Poorer people tend to suffer the burden of environmental problems more than others do. This is because more affluent people have more choices about where they live: they can afford to pay more to live in areas that have not had their environment degraded. Also, more affluent people are better able to fight the imposition of a polluting facility in their neighbourhood because they have better access to financial resources, education, skills and the decision-making structures. Similarly workers in certain industries are often exposed to higher health risks than the rest of the community; as for example, workers in mining or mineral processing and the chemical industry.
The principle of inter-generational equity, according to E. Brown Weiss, places rights and obligations upon the living generation to use and care for the planet, allocating both renewable and non-renewable resources fairly between all members of a single generation. In order to implement this principle, wealthier countries need to assist poor countries and communities to ensure equal access to, and use of the natural environment. This includes assisting the poor communities to sustainably use the resources available and ensure that these communities gain access to the economic benefits of the planet.
The following principles form the basis of intergenerational equity—
In context of 1972 Stockholm Declaration, the environment is viewed more as a resource basis for the survival of the present and future generations.
This Declaration of 1972 refers to the inter-generational equity in Principles 1 and 2 as following—
Adv. Sunil Sharma is a writer for about 25 years and has authored more than 40 books on various subjects including Hindu Law and Environmental Laws.