The discipline of environmental law concerns itself with the relationship that exists between legal instruments and the environment in the broader sense. Such research is related to the global political objective of ‘sustainable development’ and to subsidiary environmental objectives such as limiting global warming and arresting loss of biodiversity from 2020.
The all-embracing research issue is whether legal norms and principles are able to implement these environmental objectives, or alternatively, whether legal obstacles or uncertainties counteract such execution. A number of questions arise. For instance, are substantial requirements (standards, and so on) being properly formulated to direct different actors in compliance with objectives? How is risk management to be regulated? Has the system for licence and control been designed to efficiently enforce environmental requirements? Are individuals and organisations being provided with adequate rights of participation and proper access to justice?
Yet another perspective is that of the relationship between specific environmental legal principles and general legal principles. It is also a matter of importance to analyse the consistency of a very complex environmental legal system.
Research in environmental law seeks not only to indicate deficiencies in valid law, but to debate how changes in the law can be effected with a view to ensuring sustainability. The question then arises of how environmental law should be designed to manage complexity and non-linearity in nature. Furthermore, how is legal adaptive management obtained? In other words, are new legal positions easily established when the environment undergoes change, or when new knowledge is gained?
At present, research at Uppsala analyses legal preconditions for biodiversity protection, sustainable water management, sustainable energy systems, the control of chemicals, the implementation of environmental quality standards, and for licensing and control. Certain projects are being conducted in collaboration with other disciplines: ecology, environmental economics, environmental political science, and environmental psychology. Nordic Environmental Law Journal (nordiskmiljoratt.se) is administered through the environmental law research group.
Department of Social Sciences, LTU
Swedish Biodiversity Centre, SLU
The Baltic University Programme
Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre
Department of Public and International Law, University of Oslo
Nordic Environmental Law, Government & Science Network
Northern Institute for Environmental and Minority Law, Arctic Centre
Faculty of Law, University of Tromsø