18 Apr 2024 - by A4ID Team

Guest post: Sustainable Development and the Law – Incentives and Enforcement

How can the legal community help meet the challenges of sustainable development? Expert guest blog by Farooq Ullah.

Farooq Ullah, Co-Founder and Co-Chair of the UK Stakeholders for Sustainable Development (UKSSD) and a Director of Stakeholder Forum (SF), on how the legal community can help meet the challenges of sustainable development.

Farooq is a speaker on the final module – Sustainable Development – on the Law and Development Training Programme, which is on Saturday 21 July 2018. Registration for the individual module is still available – details here.

Further details on the Training Programme HERE

Download the Law and Development Training Programme brochure HERE


Sustainable Development and the Law – Incentives and Enforcement

Farooq Ullah

A multitude of international efforts are currently in place to advance sustainable development, but in reality objectives set in international agreements are often not achieved. Indeed, many actors do not even attempt to accomplish the agreed aims.

On the other hand, some existing accords between countries have been successfully fulfilled by all parties through appropriate implementation and policies, which make key steps in progressing in the sustainable development agenda.

Essentially, establishing laws related to sustainable development is a mechanism for formalizing and codifying strategies and policies for sustainable development. However, enforcement of that legislation will be critical for putting sustainable development strategies into action.

Some common mechanisms which are relevant to sustainable development are conventions, accords and treaties; legislation; regulation; common law; contracts.

In order to ensure that UN Sustainable Development Goals do not suffer difficulties with implementation and to continue to support the efforts of governments to implement existing legal agreements it will be necessary to bring together legal experts, academics, practitioners, students, and members of the judiciary to develop a Guide or Handbook to implementation of the SDGs through legal means, starting first with existing examples which can be scaled up and rolled out (e.g. Multilateral Environment Agreements (MEAs) and human and civic rights). This will help support the international, national, and local efforts of all the stakeholders and actors that are driving forward the sustainable development agenda.

Therefore, what is needed is targeted analysis of the role of legal mechanisms in the advancement of sustainable development, and evaluating the part that both soft and hard international legal agreements, as well as governance structures, play in the overall agenda. This must be done at international, national, regional and local areas of law.

Overall, the legal community needs to work more closely with decision-making and stakeholders to provide expertise on how to both utilise existing legal mechanisms more effectively to foster sustainable development and how to improve or develop new legal agreements or governance structures appropriately in order to further achieve sustainability objectives.

*The views, opinions and positions expressed within these guest posts are those of the author alone and do not represent those of A4ID