Instruments & mechanisms

Instruments & mechanisms

What are instruments and mechanisms for sustainable development?

Visions, goals and targets are in and of themselves of no consequence without the instruments and mechanisms for delivering on them to reach sustainable development. There are various forms that these instruments and mechanisms can take, though they will predominately fall into one or more of the following categories:

Legal

The overall objective of the review and development of international environmental law should be to evaluate and to promote the efficacy of that law and to promote the integration of environment and development policies through effective international agreements or instruments taking into account both universal principles and the particular and differentiated needs and concerns of all countries.

References
Key questions for this area

If you are teaching or studying legal instruments, or are looking to add content to your unit, following are some key questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • Should sustainable development be regulated/unregulated? If it should be regulated should this occur at the local or global level?
  • What legal mechanisms and instruments currently exist to assist with achieving sustainable development?
  • What legal mechanisms should be in place to ensure sustainable development?

Financial

The General Assembly, in resolution 44/228 of 22 December 1989, inter alia, decided that the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development should:

  • Identify ways and means of providing new and additional financial resources, particularly to developing countries, for environmentally sound development programmes and projects in accordance with national development objectives, priorities and plans and to consider ways of effectively monitoring the provision of such new and additional financial resources, particularly to developing countries, so as to enable the international community to take further appropriate action on the basis of accurate and reliable data;
  • Identify ways and means of providing additional financial resources for measures directed towards solving major environmental problems of global concern and especially of supporting those countries, in particular developing countries, for which the implementation of such measures would entail a special or abnormal burden, owing, in particular, to their lack of financial resources, expertise or technical capacity;
  • Consider various funding mechanisms, including voluntary ones, and examine the possibility of a special international fund and other innovative approaches, with a view to ensuring, on a favourable basis, the most effective and expeditious transfer of environmentally sound technologies to developing countries;
References
Key questions for this area

If you are teaching or studying financial mechanisms or are looking to add content to your unit, the following are some key questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • How can we balance people and planet with profit?
  • Where should money be spent on sustainable?
  • Who should finance sustainable development?
  • What innovative approaches to finance might support a sustainable planet in the future?

Science

Scientific knowledge should be applied to articulate and support the goals of sustainable development, through scientific assessments of current conditions and future prospects for the Earth system. Such assessments, based on existing and emerging innovations within the sciences, should be used in the decision-making process and in the interactive processes between the sciences and policy-making. There needs to be an increased output from the sciences in order to enhance understanding and facilitate interaction between science and society. An increase in the scientific capacity and capability to achieve these goals will also be required, particularly in developing countries. Of crucial importance is the need for scientists in developing countries to participate fully in international scientific research programmes dealing with the global problems of environment and development so as to allow all countries to participate on equal footing in negotiations on global environmental and developmental issues. In the face of threats of irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific understanding should not be an excuse for postponing actions which are justified in their own right. The precautionary approach could provide a basis for policies relating to complex systems that are not yet fully understood and whose consequences of disturbances cannot yet be predicted.

References
Key questions for this area

If you are teaching or studying science as a mechanism for achieving sustainable development, or are looking to add content to your unit, the following are some key questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • What role does science research and technology currently play in sustainable development?
  • How does biotechnology fit into sustainable development goals and objectives?
  • What issues could arise with scientific research funded by business and industry?
  • Should results of scientific research be implemented without concern for consequences?

Social

This area gives consideration to all types of sectors and the role they play in achieving sustainable development. It includes:

References
Key questions for this area

If you are teaching or studying in this area, or are looking to add content to your unit, the following are some key questions that you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • Is it possible for these sectors to work together to implement instruments and mechanisms to achieve sustainable development?
  • Are there examples of where one or more of these sectors has implemented  instruments and/or mechanisms to assist in reaching sustainability?
  • Is it possible to reach sustainability without the participation of all of these sectors? What is the impact if only one or two sectors implement instruments and mechanisms?

Accreditation/Certification

Certification schemes have emerged in recent years to become a significant and innovative venue for standard setting and governance in the environmental realm. There are a variety of accreditation bodies that are respected within their own industrial sectors, and some across sectors. Toth (2000) reports that there are about 1500 bodies globally who accredit 140,000 certification bodies, each one of which is only licensed to work in a particular country and context. The purpose of such systems is to lead to recognition and acceptance by the industry as a strong voluntary standard. The research into the impact and effectiveness of schemes is however, sparse with most research looking specifically at the forestry industry.

References

Auld, G., Gulbrandsen, L.H., and McDermott, C.L. (2008) 'Certification Schemes and the Impacts on Forests and Forestry', Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 33: 187-211 

Font, X. (2002) 'Environmental certification in tourism and hospitality: progress, process and prospects', Tourism Management, Volume 23, Issue 3, Pages 197-205

Key questions for this area

If you are teaching or studying accreditation or certification schemes, or something similar, or are looking to add content to your unit, the following are some key questions you should be able to answer and/or consider:

  • What could be the unintended consequences of accreditation and certification schemes?
  • Who regulates the accreditation and certification schemes?
  • How do companies/organisations/associations/individuals maintain accreditation once achieved?
  • Are accreditation and certification schemes a reliable mechanism for achieving sustainable development?

Useful resources 

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