Core Environmental Principles for Environmental Laws, Policies and Legal Processes


Core Environmental Principles for Environmental Laws, Policies and Legal Processes


The Environmental Law Centre recognizes that the environment is a public good that must be protected. The Environmental Law Centre’s Strategic Plan 2012-2015 references several core environmental principles that are required for strong and effective environmental laws, policies and legal processes. These core principles are:

  • sustainability,
  • precautionary principle,
  • pollution prevention,
  • polluter pays,
  • cumulative impacts,
  • intergenerational equity and
  • public participation.

In addition to these core environmental principles, environmental laws, policies and processes must be:

  • constantly improving
  • reflect and contribute to evidence based best practices
  • open, transparent and accountable

This document provides definitions of the core environmental principles that have been adopted by the ELC in its strategic plan. As well, there is a brief survey of case-law and statutes (federal and Alberta) that have referenced the core environmental principles. This document is intended only to provide definitions of the core environmental principles; it does not provide analysis of how successfully the core environmental principles have been implemented in Alberta.
Click here to read the document. (pdf)


The Environmental Law Centre (ELC) has been seeking strong and effective environmental laws since it was founded in 1982. The ELC is dedicated to providing credible, comprehensive and objective legal information regarding natural resources, energy and environmental law, policy and regulation in Alberta. The ELC’s mission is to educate and champion for strong laws and rights so all Albertans can enjoy clean water, clean air and a healthy environment. Our vision is a society where laws secure an environment that sustains current and future generations.
As a charity, the Environmental Law Centre depends on your financial support. Help us to continue to educate and champion for strong environmental laws, through tools such as our blog and all of our other resources, so that all Albertans can enjoy a healthy environment. Your support makes a difference.
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