A Global Environmental Pact and Ecological Civilization

In: Chinese Journal of Environmental Law
Bingyu Liu Assistant Professor, China University of Political Science and Law Beijing China

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A draft instrument, entitled a Global Pact for the Environment, was launched in Paris in June 2017, which subsequently resulted in a series of UN General Assembly resolutions, a Report by the UN Secretary General, and a report and recommendations by a specifically established ad hoc open-ended working group. Together, these processes identified a range of gaps in existing international environmental law, instruments, and governance. Though this global pact process was a significant milestone in recognising the need for improved global environmental governance, a new ‘umbrella’ international environmental law agreement such as a pact or similar—has not yet been recommended. This article argues that the time for a legally binding global pact is premature. In support of this contention, this article examines the causes leading to the current stage of the process. It does so by analysing the main disagreements and key issues that arose during three substantive meetings of an ad hoc open-ended working group in 2019. It also analyses the content of UNGA’s 2019 Resolution 73/333, which adopted the report of the working group, and considers the implications of this for the future development of the draft Global Pact. China’s growing role as an important advocate for global environmental governance is illustrated by its active engagement in the negotiation process for the Global Pact. It is suggested that China’s future participation in any follow-up negotiations relating to the Global Pact should be actively pursued, with specific reference to the concept of ecological civilization and its potentially important conceptual contribution to the substance of the final negotiation document. This would also reflect China’s commitment to the development of an ecological civilization on a global basis.

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