Of Development, daVinci and Domestic Legislation: The Prospects for Sustainable Development in Asia and Its Untapped Potential in the United States

James May

Widener University Delaware Law School

January 1, 1998

Widener Law Symposium Journal, Vol. 3, p. 197, 1998

This article examines the definition, the role and the difficulties of implementation of sustainable development in both Asia and the United States. It also introduces the reader to some of the myriad ways in which U.S. domestic laws already reflect sustainable principles. G. Gordon Davis, has described some sustainable development efforts in Asia as yielding “rich, showy products,” without actually ushering in sustainability. One difficulty is that lesser-developed nations may view with suspicion any western attempts to regulate use of their resources. The U.S. hasn’t led by example. Looking at our own domestic laws, sustainable development can be seen in small parts through our federal conservation laws, namely the National Environmental Policy Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act, and Multiple Use and Sustained Yield Act of 1960, the National Forest Management Act and the Federal Land Policy Act, just to name a few. Additionally, pollution control laws reflect sustainable development in their attempt to control current pollution without compromising future needs. Yet these laws are generally underutilized extensions of sustainable development.

This article serves as commentary to Mr. Davis’ experiences. Part I provides the baseline definition of "sustainable development," as well as some comments about its import. Part II then explores Mr. Davis' observations about Ecologically Sustainable Development Inc.'s attempts to implement sustainable development through a four-part process in areas of Russia, China, and Mongolia. Part III examines existing tools from U.S. environmental legislation that could be used to build sanctums of sustainable development in the United States and as models elsewhere. Finally, by way of example, this article discusses how one of the most important, yet often overlooked, sections of the Clean Water Act (CWA), when integrated with certain key provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), holds the seeds of sustainable development for taming land and watershed development in the United States. The article suggests we revise U.S. environmental and natural resources legislation to reflect sustainable development, and lead by example.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 16

Keywords: environmental law, sustainable development, natural resources

JEL Classification: K32

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Date posted: August 7, 2009  

Suggested Citation

May, James, Of Development, daVinci and Domestic Legislation: The Prospects for Sustainable Development in Asia and Its Untapped Potential in the United States (January 1, 1998). Widener Law Symposium Journal, Vol. 3, p. 197, 1998. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1441514

Contact Information

James May (Contact Author)
Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )
4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States

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