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Environmental laws only look good on paper, UN says

By Emiliano Rodríguez Mega ~ Sci Dev Net ~

A dramatic spike in the global adoption of environmental laws has failed to translate into better conservation efforts, according to a United Nations report, the first global evaluation of such laws.

The document — which assessed national laws, regulations, and policies around the world — found that a lack of political will, underfunded agencies, unfair judicial systems and a poor implementation of the law has in fact hindered efforts to address some of the biggest challenges of our time, such as climate change and the loss of biodiversity.

To counter this, the report emphasises the need to strengthen the environmental rule of law through a regular global assessment to track progress or potential backsliding.

“What we have seen (in the last decades) is a growth of laws and institutions, but a lot of that progress is stalled,” says Carl Bruch, a law researcher at the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C., and co-author of the report.

In fact, Bruch says, the field has experienced a kind of hiatus for at least 26 years.

Following the Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 1992, hundreds of nations witnessed an explosion of environmental laws, according to the report.

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