This article is written by Saba Banu, a 3rd year law student, from Pendekanti Law College, Hyderabad. This particular article gives an analysis of the principle of intergenerational equity. 


Intergenerational equity in the simplest words means, that the duty of the present generation towards the future generations. It is designed as the relationship between the generations that lays more emphasis on the future generation in implementing the designs and the current policies for a better tomorrow. The duty of the present generation here means that the present people of the generation should take care of the ecology, nature and natural resources, so that the further generations have the idea and the chance to enjoy mother nature, how beautiful it exists in its way. It is the interdependence of many generations of humankind on the environment. This principle of intergenerational equity raises its concerns for the future generations, with keeping in mind the present generation to reflect on the environmental pressure and take effective steps. The principle fluently gives a concept of fairness among all the generations for the conservation and use of natural resources effectively among all other generations. Intergenerational equity is a recognized principle of International Environmental law which provides for the preservation of natural resources for the benefit of future generations. It has roots in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration.

Basic Principles of Intergenerational Equity

Every generation has equal rights for the effective use of natural resources present in nature, and preserves the diversity from getting exploited.

Principle of conservation of opinions: Every generation should preserve the diversity and it should not restrict the options that are available to future generations in solving their own problems. The ultimate aim is that the upcoming generations should not suffer just because of the excessive use by the present generation.

Principle of Conservational equality: This principle says that all the generations should maintain the planet in a very well manner so that it does not receive any worse condition for the upcoming generations, and it should also be entitled to planetary quality compared to other generations.

Principle of conservation of Access:  Each generation should provide equitable rights for the generations and should also pass the legacy of access for preserving the future generations. As many environmental problems work it is insufficient for the next generation to restrict concern. As we speak about the future generations, it is impossible to find out what interests or needs will be there. These three principles are entitled to protect natural diversity, the quality of the environment, and access for the further generations.

Intergenerational Rights and Obligations

The three principles of intergenerational equity form the basis for the set of intergenerational rights and obligations, or planetary rights which are passed on from generation to generation. These rights which are derived from generation to generation play a part as the form of human society. Planetary rights are interlinked closely with the rights that are associated with the obligations. The main idea behind it is the moral protection of interests which is too transformed to legal rights and obligations. The planetary rights co-exist in this generation. In the view of intergenerational equity, the rights of future generations are linked to the present generations. Thus, the international obligation is to conserve the planet flow from the present generation to future generation, as the members of the present generation have the right to use and enjoy the planetary legacy. Planetary rights of future generations provide a framework for inserting the sustainable development. It is an entitlement that we ourselves as the present generation, held in relation with our ancestors have the right to protect our descendants.  

Sustainable Development and Equity

The term sustainable development means that it is the development that meets the needs of the present generation without compromising the needs of the future generations. The intergenerational equity is present by the sustainable development goals (SDG’S). Sustainable development and equity both parts are the same side of the coin. It is the developmental process by protecting the same. The principle of intergenerational equity is present in sustainable development, whereas the latter is the attainment of the former. The main aim is towards a better, safe and clean environment for the further generations.

Landmark Cases on this Principle

GOA MINING CASE – In Goa foundation v Union of India and others, the Supreme Court held that there are four principles, which is the right and part of life according to the constitution. The four principles are intergenerational equity, sustainable development, precautionary principle and polluter principle. The Supreme Court even observed that the principle of intergenerational equity that the future generations should receive the same as the present generations, in dealing with the scarce conservation.

Rural Litigation Entitlement Kendra v. State of UP – The court observed that the, it has to always be remembered that the assets of the environment are the permanent assets and cannot be vanished in one generation.


It is the duty of every fellow citizen of every generation in coming forward for the protection of diversity, natural resources and to ensure the protection of all this for the future generations by the way of sustainable development. Equity, the intergenerational principle, is supposed to be an ethical principle of sustainable development. It is with collective decision making that such aspects are accepted. The pillars of the effective environmental policy are the access to the further generation, public participation and right to information are the parts which enhance intergenerational equity keeping in view of sustainable development. Both, the intergenerational equity and the sustainable development are the processes for the betterment of the generations, and these generations either present or past, should protect and use it accordingly. Therefore, the principle of intergenerational equity lays more emphasis for the present generation to use the resources in an effective manner so that the future generations don’t face any problem of the environment. Hence, the principle of intergenerational equity is the legal responsibility of the present generations for preserving nature, diversity and natural resources.  

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