Am Dienstag, den 06. 12. 2022, um 18.00 s.t. im Raum EG 18/19/ Tuesday, December 6th, 2022, at 6 p.m. in room EG 18/19

Prof Dr Shawkat Alam, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Abstract: Sustainable development has a well-established foundation in equity, which in this context refers to the equal distribution of resources amongst States. The principle of equity in sustainable development ensures that the three pillars of sustainable development are progressed. These are social, economic and environmental development. The Brundtland Report titled ‘Our Common Future’, places intergenerational and intra-generational equity at the forefront of sustainable development in its definition of: ‘development that meets the needs of the present, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs’. However, the serious socio-economic asymmetry in resource access and use between the North and the South demonstrates that intra-generational equity, being fairness in the utilisation of resources among human members of present generations, is not adequately applied in international agreements, and has in fact been neglected. Notwithstanding the fact that intra-generational equity is integral to achieving sustainable development, it is merely implied in existing instruments and consequently there is little guidance on how it should be applied and the resultant obligations that it imposes on States. This has subsequently led to antipathy by the North in rigorously applying intra-generational equity to sustainable development. As a result, despite the many concluded international instruments, the goal of sustainable development is far from being achieved.


Sustainable development is a responsibility that is shared, albeit to a varying degree, between the North and the South. This is consistent with the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR). This principle is essential in the realisation of sustainable development as it places differential responsibilities upon States to address both environmental and socio-economic inequities. More specifically, CBDR dictates that responsibility should be shared according to the resources States command and the pressures their societies place on the environment. Agreements such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) that provide for technology transfer from the North to the South are somewhat underutilised and in practice, less favourable for developing country parties. Consequently, there appears to be a dynamic of all take and no give between the North and the South, and a clear demonstration of the operation of reverse CBDR at the expense of the common goal of sustainable development.