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Networked integrated and adaptive approaches to implementation and compliance may be the signature of the emerging generation of environmental law.
The first generation of environmental law saw the creation of specialist environmental administrations and the introduction of a suite of laws for them to administer on environmental impact assessment, pollution control, wilderness conservation and threatened species conservation. This was the generation of the 1972 Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.
The second generation of environmental law saw a shift in focus to sustainable development, reflecting the increased participation of developing countries in international diplomatic initiatives on the environment. It signified attention to it is ecosystemic problems, such as climate, biodiversity, and desertification, and to international trade of harmful substances into developing countries, such as chemicals and hazardous waste. This was the generation of the 1992 Rio Conference on Environment and Development.