The emergence of global ecological problems has inspired the global community’s interest in preserving the environment and has encouraged states to look for more effective solutions to these problems. Strengthening cross-border efforts and developing international cooperation at various levels, in the second half of the 20th century ecological problems fell into the international policy dimension. The aim of this article is to analyze the preconditions for the formation of international environmental policy instruments and to discuss the most up-to-date environmental problems and the transformation of their scale and nature, which has encouraged the formation and further development of international environmental policy. In order to review the development of international environmental policy and its results, the article focuses on practical aspects of environmental policy relating to the comparison of documents regulating international ecological problems in accordance with criteria including their form, type, number of states that joined these documents, the possibility of non-state actors to participate in implementation documents, control and monitoring procedures and influence on the development of principles of international environmental policy.
The world’s population is constantly growing, economics is being developed and thus expanding, the number and the importance of global environmental problems is inevitably increasing. Therefore, international community and politicians tend to pay more attention to the preservation and protection of the environment. The tendencies of thoroughly increasing harm to the environment were noticed in the 19th century, after the industrial revolution. In the early periods most of the local environmental problems could be solved by international law but since 20th century environmental problems have spread at regional and global level. The second half of the 20th century is described as the period of global transformation by many authors, disbalance between environmental and economic growth, a period of fast growing population and the gap between the poor and the rich part of the world. Improving economic conditions and the growth of material wealth in industrial countries can not balance or compensate environmental harm which has become global since the mid 20th century. Environmental problems and the necessity for their solution by team work should be analyzed in the perspective of global processes (to be more precise – referring to the approach of transformationalists as it explains the formation and effects of agreements, norms, institutions, and other globally applicable means to solve environmental problems the best). Traditional international law is based on the independence of the territories of nation states. The legal status of nation state can be described by three fundamental principles: sovereignty norm, independence and equality, although currently the acknowledgement of much wider common interest in preserving healthy environment is spreading among the countries. This acknowledgment consequently leads to the invention of new norms and rules, which extend the principles mentioned above. As the influence of nation state sovereignty is descending, countries are forced to obey the new norms and rules and to limit their actions for the sake of all humanity and mankind. Taking into consideration the increasing number of current global ecological problems, nation states are not capable to control the phenomena which extend their territories any longer. Thus, these problems must be solved on the international scale, in cooperation with various institutions, including all interested, even independent non-state actors. The most essential documents regulating environmental problems are reviewed and compared as the results of international environmental politics – United Nations Stockholm Declaration on Human Environment, World Commission on Environment and Development (Brundtland Commission) Report on Our Common Future, Agenda 21, United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Kyoto Protocol and Paris climate agreement. These documents institutionalized countries’ initiatives to solve ecological problems on the international scale and their necessity for analysis can be grounded by the importance of their contents for the development of international environmental politics. In order to prove that the documents named above are worth to be chosen for analysis their historical importance for the development of international environmental politics, their global effect and their aim to regulate the most essential global environmental problems should also be mentioned.