International Policy of the Environment: A Conflict between an Integral Ecosystem and a Fragmentary System of States?

  • Petr Jehlička


At the outset, environmental problems were perceived as local pollution problems which endanger the health of human beings; all that was needed to solve them was regulation on the level of individual states. As the nature of cross-border pollution became evident, there was a gradual change in the perception of the problems of the environment towards their internationalization requiring measures at an international and global level. The transforming form of social response to these problems corresponds to the change of the character and proportions of environmental problems.
While at the beginning isolated measures of the type of “at the end of the outlet” were seen as effective solutions, reacting to a problem that had already arisen, roughly as of the 1970s the need emerged for a preventive approach and for the integration of environmental issues in to the policies of various branches. The concept of permanently sustainable development recognized the inevitability of combining the right of poor societies to social and economic development with endeavours to preserve a functioning world ecosystem which is seen as an urgent problem, especially in advanced countries. This conflict between the interests of advanced and developing countries where the approach to the protection of the environment is concerned, is a concrete example of a structural conflict between the system of territorially sovereign states and the integral world ecosystem.
One way of analyzing this structural problem is the model of the tragedy of joint property which offers three approaches to measures to protect the environment on an international scale. One of these is the formation of a theoretical outline of international environmental regimes which is currently the dominant analytical framework for the solution of international environment problems. However, lately, under the pressure of the continuing degradation of global ecosystems, the adequate nature of this approach as an effective instrument for solving environmental problems is being questioned. Criticism is levelled, above all, against the absence of ethical and normative aspects which are a substantial part of more radical trends of ecological thinking, pointing more effectively to the essence than a “managerial” approach by international regimes. The latter is basically confined to international cooperation. But this cooperation alone is no guarantee for an effective solution of environment problems.

Author Biography

Petr Jehlička



Research Articles