The growing recognition that ecological and economic systems are interconnected -- global interdependence -- has changed the nature of international affairs. One can no longer rely on economic growth in the traditional sense to solve all the world's problems. Development and environmental issues must be integrated, as articulated in the concept of sustainable development. In this new world order, the interests and needs of developing countries can no longer be disregarded in the context of solving global environmental problems, first of all because their activities increasingly add to global environmental problems. Secondly, developing states contain most of the world's genetic library, which we all depend on. There is no longer any doubt that in order to tackle global environmental problems, developing countries need to be included in the process of finding and implementing solutions.
Global environmental problems can only be solved if all or at least most nations participate in the creation and implementation of international environmental agreements. In this manner, the concept of sustainable development is translated into specific norms. In this study, I argue that to include incentives, in effect giving developing countries differential treatment, in international environmental agreements will promote such universal participation.
My review of the development of international environmental law has shown that there is an emerging pattern with regard to the use of incentives or differential treatment for developing countries. Increasingly, international environmental agreements are including provisions specifically providing differential treatment, such as delayed compliance schedules, and technical and financial assistance for developing countries. This trend must continue and become part of the framework of international environmental law. However, on the whole, incentives should only be used for an initial period, allowing the developing countries to "catch up" with the developed countries, while simultaneously addressing environmental problems.