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Special Issue "Environmental Laws and Sustainability"

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A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2010)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. John C. Dernbach

Distinguished Professor of Law, Widener University, 3800 Vartan Way, Harrisburg, PA 17106-9382, USA
Website | E-Mail
Fax: +1 717 541 3966
Interests: sustainable development; climate change law; environmental law; governance for sustainability; law for sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sustainable development provides a framework for humans to live and prosper in harmony with nature rather than, as we have for centuries, at nature’s expense. Nonetheless, sustainability does not now have an adequate or supportive legal foundation, in spite of the many environmental and natural resources laws that exist. If we are to make significant progress toward a sustainable society, much less achieve sustainability, we will need to develop and implement laws and legal institutions that do not now exist, or that exist in a much different form. As clients in government, business, and nongovernmental organizations increasingly demand legal work that addresses sustainable development issues, lawyers and policy makers are now responding to that demand. This special issue is not just about the relationship between law and sustainability. The contributors to this issue will also attempt to answer, in various ways, the question of how law can and should be used to achieve sustainability—hence the title, “law for sustainability.” The urgency of the task before us requires this kind of engaged scholarship: providing information, tools, and ideas that policy makers, practicing lawyers, and others can use to address the challenges and opportunities of sustainability.

Prof. Dr. John C. Dernbach
Prof. Dr. Joel A. Mintz
Guest Editors

Keywords

  • law
  • environmental law
  • natural resources law
  • governance
  • integrated decisionmaking
  • precautionary approach
  • sustainable development
  • reflexive law

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial Environmental Laws and Sustainability: An Introduction
Sustainability 2011, 3(3), 531-540; doi:10.3390/su3030531
Received: 15 March 2011 / Accepted: 23 March 2011 / Published: 23 March 2011
Cited by 5 | PDF Full-text (175 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In this introduction to the special issue of Sustainability on environmental laws and sustainability, we attempt to synthesize key lessons from the issue’s ten substantive articles. These lessons involve the use of law to achieve integrated decision-making, the use of pre-existing laws to
[...] Read more.
In this introduction to the special issue of Sustainability on environmental laws and sustainability, we attempt to synthesize key lessons from the issue’s ten substantive articles. These lessons involve the use of law to achieve integrated decision-making, the use of pre-existing laws to foster sustainability, the centrality of sub-national governments in achieving sustainability, the background law of unsustainable development, the growing importance of climate change, the need to use law to protect and restore ecological integrity, the importance of judicial review and nongovernmental organizations, the need to translate sustainability into specific legal principles, the challenge of creating an appropriate national legal structure for sustainability, the importance of sustainability assessment tools and institutions before and after laws are adopted, and the importance of “soft” law. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)

Research

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Open AccessArticle The Importance of Regulation-Induced Innovation for Sustainable Development
Sustainability 2011, 3(1), 270-292; doi:10.3390/su3010270
Received: 10 December 2010 / Accepted: 2 January 2011 / Published: 19 January 2011
Cited by 31 | PDF Full-text (398 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article explores the complex relationship between environmental regulation, innovation, and sustainable development within the context of an increasingly globalizing economy. The economic development, environment, and employment aspects of sustainable development are emphasized. We contend that the most crucial problem in achieving sustainability
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This article explores the complex relationship between environmental regulation, innovation, and sustainable development within the context of an increasingly globalizing economy. The economic development, environment, and employment aspects of sustainable development are emphasized. We contend that the most crucial problem in achieving sustainability is lock-in or path dependency due to (1) the failure to envision, design, and implement policies that achieve co-optimization, or the mutually reinforcing, of social goals, and (2) entrenched economic and political interests that gain from the present system and advancement of its current trends. The article argues that industrial policy, environmental law and policy, and trade initiatives must be ‘opened up’ by expanding the practice of multi-purpose policy design, and that these policies must be integrated as well. Sustainable development requires stimulating revolutionary technological innovation through environmental, health, safety, economic, and labor market regulation. Greater support for these changes must also be reinforced by ‘opening up the participatory and political space’ to enable new voices to contribute to integrated thinking and solutions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Losing the Forest for the Trees: Environmental Reductionism in the Law
Sustainability 2010, 2(8), 2424-2448; doi:10.3390/su2082424
Received: 29 June 2010 / Revised: 22 July 2010 / Accepted: 23 July 2010 / Published: 29 July 2010
Cited by 12 | PDF Full-text (265 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Environmental laws and policies have saved some “trees”, but the “forest” is being lost as critical global issues including climate change, biodiversity loss, and our ecological footprint continue to worsen. Existing laws and policies mitigate the ecological damage inflicted by industrial economies and
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Environmental laws and policies have saved some “trees”, but the “forest” is being lost as critical global issues including climate change, biodiversity loss, and our ecological footprint continue to worsen. Existing laws and policies mitigate the ecological damage inflicted by industrial economies and western lifestyles. The article essentially makes the case for a sustainability approach to law that aims for transformation rather than environmental mitigation. Relevant trends in international law and domestic law reflective of a sustainability approach are discussed, and the article describes some contours of “law for sustainability” or “sustainability law”. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Grassland Governance and Common-Interest Communities
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2320-2348; doi:10.3390/su2072320
Received: 24 June 2010 / Revised: 13 July 2010 / Accepted: 13 July 2010 / Published: 21 July 2010
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (224 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
In the United States, today’s ranches are engaging in small-scale nature-based endeavors to diversify their income base. But the geographic boundary of the land they own creates a relatively small area within which to operate, and fragmented ownership diminishes the ability of any
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In the United States, today’s ranches are engaging in small-scale nature-based endeavors to diversify their income base. But the geographic boundary of the land they own creates a relatively small area within which to operate, and fragmented ownership diminishes the ability of any single landowner to produce nature-based income. Collective action among nearby landowners can produce a set of resources from which all members of the group can profit. Such action can enhance the economic, social, and environmental sustainability of grasslands and the populations that use them. This article shows that common-interest communities can be used to provide and allocate wildlife and other resources on ranchlands, enabling individual landowners to generate more income from selling nature-based experiences to customers. Common-interest communities are familiar in urban settings but they have not yet been used in this setting. Thus, the article proposes a new approach to ranchland management based upon a familiar set of largely private legal arrangements. More broadly, the article illustrates the relevance of private law and private property to sustainable development by explaining how property owners can use private law to engage in environmentally beneficial and economically profitable enterprises on the vast privately owned landscape of the U.S. Great Plains. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Institutionalizing Sustainability across the Federal Government
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 1924-1942; doi:10.3390/su2071924
Received: 16 April 2010 / Revised: 13 June 2010 / Accepted: 22 June 2010 / Published: 2 July 2010
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (194 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
A notable aspect of sustainability is its holistic and cross-cutting nature—it cannot be achieved by any single rule, statute or agency. Instead, sustainability must be institutionalized across the legal system and government as a whole. In this paper, we propose and examine five
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A notable aspect of sustainability is its holistic and cross-cutting nature—it cannot be achieved by any single rule, statute or agency. Instead, sustainability must be institutionalized across the legal system and government as a whole. In this paper, we propose and examine five mechanisms for institutionalizing sustainability across the federal legal system: (1) an Executive Order on sustainability; (2) a sustainability impact assessment process; (3) a non-partisan Congressional Joint Committee on Sustainability; (4) a federal Sustainability Commission; and (5) a Sustainability Law Reform Commission. Each is modeled on an existing institution in the United States or another jurisdiction. We discuss and compare the advantages and disadvantages of each mechanism, and discuss how the mechanisms might best be used, singly or in combination, to institutionalize sustainability across the federal government. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Addressing Climate Change at the State and Local Level: Using Land Use Controls to Reduce Automobile Emissions
Sustainability 2010, 2(6), 1742-1764; doi:10.3390/su2061742
Received: 29 April 2010 / Revised: 13 May 2010 / Accepted: 17 May 2010 / Published: 18 June 2010
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (250 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Automobiles are a major source of CO2 emissions. Because there is no immediate technological fix to reduce these emissions, the most promising current strategy is to promote less automobile use. In the United States, this is difficult because federal programs such as
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Automobiles are a major source of CO2 emissions. Because there is no immediate technological fix to reduce these emissions, the most promising current strategy is to promote less automobile use. In the United States, this is difficult because federal programs such as the interstate highway system and local land use planning and regulation have encouraged suburban sprawl. In 2006, the state of California passed legislation to roll back greenhouse emissions to 1990 levels by 2020. This legislation did not link the roll back target with land use policies. However, NGOs and the state Attorney General used the state’s pre-existing environmental impact assessment act to sue a large county east of Los Angeles alleging that its revised land use plan was inconsistent with the 2006 legislation. The state and the county settled the suit after the county agreed to new greenhouse gas mitigation duties, and in 2008 California passed additional legislation to implement its 2006 statute. Communities are strongly encouraged to adopt compact, transit-oriented development strategies to limit automobile use. The new legislation gives the attorney general and NGOs additional legal authority to challenge local land use plans and regulatory decisions which fail to adopt these strategies. California’s important experiment has lessons for all urban areas struggling to reduce automobile CO2 emissions. It suggests that local land use controls can be added to the list of workable greenhouse gas mitigation strategies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Formulating Future Just Policies: Applying the Delhi Sustainable Development Law Principles
Sustainability 2010, 2(6), 1694-1718; doi:10.3390/su2061694
Received: 26 April 2010 / Revised: 5 May 2010 / Accepted: 28 May 2010 / Published: 9 June 2010
Cited by 7 | PDF Full-text (233 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The nature of the concept of sustainability makes it difficult to coordinate and monitor the implementation of sustainable development in the formulation of effective policy. The International Law Association at its meeting in New Delhi in 2002 offered a set of seven Principles
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The nature of the concept of sustainability makes it difficult to coordinate and monitor the implementation of sustainable development in the formulation of effective policy. The International Law Association at its meeting in New Delhi in 2002 offered a set of seven Principles of International Law Relating to Sustainable Development as a definitive tool to inform the formulation of policy and potentially legal arrangements. This article describes a research project by the World Future Council that used these principles as the basis for a methodology to assess and evaluate how a range of policies might contribute to sustainable development in the interest of future generations. Three ―"best" policies on food security are evaluated and their common characteristics are identified. The article finally discusses how policy assessments based on principles accepted internationally might contribute to accelerated, effective and coherent implementation of sustainable development, even where the prevailing institutional approach treats ecological, social, economic and cultural issues as separate factors. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Governing for Sustainable Coasts: Complexity, Climate Change, and Coastal Ecosystem Protection
Sustainability 2010, 2(5), 1361-1388; doi:10.3390/su2051361
Received: 19 March 2010 / Revised: 23 April 2010 / Accepted: 14 May 2010 / Published: 17 May 2010
Cited by 10 | PDF Full-text (310 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The world’s coastal ecosystems are among the most complex on Earth, and they are currently being governed unsustainably, by any definition. Climate change will only add to this complexity, underscoring the necessity of finding new ways to govern for these ecosystems’ sustainable use.
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The world’s coastal ecosystems are among the most complex on Earth, and they are currently being governed unsustainably, by any definition. Climate change will only add to this complexity, underscoring the necessity of finding new ways to govern for these ecosystems’ sustainable use. After reviewing the problems facing coastal ecosystems and innovations in their governance, this article argues that governance of coastal ecosystems must move to place-based adaptive management regimes that incorporate innovative and flexible regulatory mechanisms, such as market-based incentives. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle Using Community-Based Social Marketing Techniques to Enhance Environmental Regulation
Sustainability 2010, 2(4), 1138-1160; doi:10.3390/su2041138
Received: 2 April 2010 / Accepted: 21 April 2010 / Published: 26 April 2010
Cited by 24 | PDF Full-text (253 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article explores how environmental regulation may be improved through the use of community-based social marketing techniques. While regulation is an important tool of sustainability policy, it works upon a limited range of behavioural ‘triggers’. It focuses upon fear of penalty or desires
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This article explores how environmental regulation may be improved through the use of community-based social marketing techniques. While regulation is an important tool of sustainability policy, it works upon a limited range of behavioural ‘triggers’. It focuses upon fear of penalty or desires for compliance, but individual behaviour is also affected by beliefs and values, and by perceived opportunities for greater satisfaction. It is argued that more effective environmental laws may be achieved using strategies that integrate regulation with community-based social marketing. Case studies where community-based social marketing techniques have been successfully used are examined, and methods for employing community-based social marketing tools to support environmental regulation are proposed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)
Open AccessArticle It’s Time to Get Serious—Why Legislation Is Needed to Make Sustainable Development a Reality in the UK
Sustainability 2010, 2(4), 1101-1127; doi:10.3390/su2041101
Received: 15 March 2010 / Accepted: 30 March 2010 / Published: 22 April 2010
Cited by 13 | PDF Full-text (520 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
On paper, the United Kingdom (UK) has the architecture in place to actually start delivering sustainable development. The current UK-wide framework for sustainable development and the individual strategies made under it are all relatively modern and progressive in considering environmental limits and long-term
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On paper, the United Kingdom (UK) has the architecture in place to actually start delivering sustainable development. The current UK-wide framework for sustainable development and the individual strategies made under it are all relatively modern and progressive in considering environmental limits and long-term effects. This framework, however, lacks a legislative foundation in the UK. Moreover, these strategies are not delivering in the three areas considered vital for the proper implementation of sustainable development—improving understanding, providing a comprehensive framework to integrate potentially conflicting priorities and providing an operational toolkit. This article argues that over and above its symbolic and educational value, specific legislation setting out the state’s approach to sustainable development should impose mandatory obligations on policy and decision makers, with meaningful consequences both inside and outside the courtroom. Using examples from Wales, Canada and Scotland, it explores three legislative models to support the implementation of sustainable development that would be suitable in the UK and its devolved administrations, and the legislative provisions necessary for their delivery. This article emphasises the benefits of procedural obligations, both by themselves and in support of more substantive obligations, along with the possibility that certain appropriately worded substantive duties be treated as legal rules that govern decision-making. It explores the benefits and drawbacks of including a definition of ‘sustainable development’ and of referring to specific underlying principles such as the precautionary principle, concluding that these elements may not be necessary or suitable in the UK. The article also contends that sustainable development ought to be the central organising principle of government in the UK, and that even if a weaker and less ambitious formulation is adopted, legislative backing for the production, use and review of sustainability strategies would still improve understanding, provide a framework for decision-making and clarify the use and importance of other implementation devices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)

Review

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Open AccessReview Drought, Sustainability, and the Law
Sustainability 2010, 2(7), 2176-2196; doi:10.3390/su2072176
Received: 28 May 2010 / Revised: 17 June 2010 / Accepted: 12 July 2010 / Published: 15 July 2010
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (209 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Researchers and responsible officials have made considerable progress in recent years in efforts to anticipate, plan for, and respond to drought. Some of those efforts are beginning to shift from purely reactive, relief-oriented measures to programs designed to prevent or to mitigate drought
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Researchers and responsible officials have made considerable progress in recent years in efforts to anticipate, plan for, and respond to drought. Some of those efforts are beginning to shift from purely reactive, relief-oriented measures to programs designed to prevent or to mitigate drought impacts. Considerably less attention has been given to laws that may affect practices and policies that either increase or decrease drought vulnerability. Water law regimes, drought response and relief legislation, and laws governing broader but related issues of economic policy—especially agricultural policy—should be evaluated more comprehensively to enhance incentives for more ―water sustainable‖ practices in agriculture and other sectors of the economy. Those changes will be increasingly important if current climate change models are correct in their prediction that many parts of the world can expect more frequent and more severe conditions of meteorological drought in the ensuing decades. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Laws and Sustainability)

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