If it is assumed that nature and biological diversity possess a value that deserves to be protected, the question arises as to who will benefit from this value, and to what extent. In this context, the problem of intergenerational justice further adds to the practical problems of distributive justice between all currently living people, or between individual nations and countries (e.g. access and benefit sharing) (see Legal aspects). In consideration of the fact that biological diversity continuously decreases while, at the same time, the demand for resources increases, the ethical discussion deals with the question of what are the present generations' obligations to future human beings. It seems undisputed that future generations are generally entitled to live in a natural environment that enables them to lead a successful life. It is however controversial which measures must be taken or which sacrifices must be made by present generations for future persons who do not yet exist.

For general considerations and concrete problems related to intergenerational justice, see:

Birnbacher, Dieter (1988): Verantwortung für zukünftige Generationen. (Responsibility for future generations.) Stuttgart: Reclam. 

Mieth, Dietmar (2003): Was ist Nachhaltigkeit? Eine ethische Kursbestimmung. (What is sustainability? Defining an ethical course.) In: Bobbert, Monika / Düwell, Marcus / Jax, Kurt (eds.): Umwelt - Ethik - Recht. Tübingen, Basel: Francke Verlag, 182-201.

Patzig, Günther (1993): Ökologische Ethik - innerhalb der Grenzen bloßer Vernunft. (Ecological ethics - within the boundaries of mere reason.) In: Elster, H. J. / Studienzentrum Weikersheim et al. (eds.): Umweltschutz - Herausforderung unserer Generation. Mainz: v. Hase & Kochler, 63-81.

Portney, R. Paul / Weynant, John P. (eds.) (1999): Discounting and intergenerational equity. Washington, D.C.

Sturma, Dieter (2006): Die Gegenwart der Langzeitverantwortung. (The present of long-term responsibility.) In: Langbehn, C. (ed.): Recht, Gerechtigkeit und Freiheit. Aufsätze zur politischen Philosophie der Gerechtigkeit. (Festschrift für Wolfgang Kersting). Paderborn: Mentis, 221-238.

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