From Stockholm to Rio+20: The ASEAN Environmental Paradox, Environmental Sustainability, and Environmental Ethics

By Yee Keong Choy.

Published by The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: December 17, 2015 $US5.00

The first world conference on the environment, the Stockholm Conference, was convened in 1972 by the United Nations, prompted by serious concern over the persistently alarming trends of unsustainable environmental development worldwide. The aim of the conference was to raise global environmental awareness and to call on the international community to intensify actions to address global environmental degradation. Since then, countless international conventions, conferences and meetings have been held and hundreds of international and regional treaties and declarations and agreements have been adopted in order to reverse global environmental decline. In response to these global environmental initiatives, the Southeast Asian or the ASEAN region initiated a host of collective cooperative efforts in order to protect the regional environment. In an attempt to strengthen environmental protection efforts, the ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, a legally binding document for the enhancement of the regional environment, was enacted. Despite this, casual observation on the ground indicates that the ASEAN Agreement seems to have had no effect on curbing the region’s environmental degradation. Using content analysis and empirical assessment, this article aims to evaluate the apparent failure of environmental control in this region. The paper ventures further to assess the role of environmental ethics in fostering stronger environmental controlling actions by drawing on the contemporary theory of environmental ethics and empirical evidence from an extensive field study on indigenous land ethics conducted between 2007 and 2011 in the state of Sarawak in Malaysia. The paper concludes that, apart from legal approaches in addressing the crisis-ridden episodes of biological impoverishment in Southeast Asia, the ethical aspect of conservation and human relationship to nature is also a critical approach to be considered.

Keywords: Rio+20, ASEAN Agreement on the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, ASEAN way, Environmental Ethics

The International Journal of Environmental Sustainability, Volume 12, Issue 1, March 2016, pp.1-25. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: December 17, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 686.032KB)).

Dr. Yee Keong Choy

Research Fellow, Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Kyoto, Japan