Consistency in Environmental Law

The project aims at a highly needed strengthening of environmental law research in Norway.

Illustration: Alexander Platjouw

About the project

The project seeks to address some of the key questions related to framework conditions and application of various instruments topmanage and protectt the environment. A basic hypothesis is that the problems we face when trying to protect the environment through law are partly due to lack of consistency in the legal system.

Environmental law is marked by the many interests involved in environmental matters, a multilevel governance system, and a highly fragmented pattern of policy, law and administration. The project will not study only environmental law in the strict sense. How environmental objectives and considerations are taken into account in various sector legislations and by sector authorities may be at least as important as the environmental legislation itself.

The project will explore these fundamental problems in environmental law, and carry out studies related to different aspects of the consistency issue:

  • the unity of the environment faced with fragmented legislation and competences,
  • how the legal system balances interests and values harm to environmental goods,
  • the multi-level dimension with special emphasis on EU law as a framework for Norwegian environmental governance.

Objectives

The objective of the project is to develop new insights in, and analyse, some parts of law that are important for the protection of the environment and a more sustainable development.

A basic hypothesis is that the problems we face when trying to protect the environment through law are partly due to lack of consistency in the legal system. On the basis of such insights, it will seek to identify weaknesses and suggest changes in the law and/or the application of the law. The project aims at a highly needed strengthening of environmental law research in Norway.

Background

National and international law is important for how the environment protected. On the one hand, legal principles and rules are necessary to regulate and control activities that are harmful to the environment. This is the objective of environmental law “in the strict sense”.

However, other parts of law protect values and interests that may be in conflict with environmental protection and sustainable development. Also, there is environmental law at several levels: international, national and local. In order to improve law as an instrument for environmental protection, it is important to improve our understanding of how various parts of law and different types of norms actually work in relation to environmental problems, and how they are related.

Environmental law in the strict sense must be studied in a broader legal context. Also the limits of law as an instrument for environmental protection must be better understood.

Financing

The project is funded by the Research Council of Norway, through its programme Miljø 2015.

Cooperation

The project has contact with several other institutions and scholars in environmental law, in particjular through the Nordic Environmental Law and Governance Network (NELN+).

Sub-projects

Froukje Maria Platjouw: Environmental law & The Ecosystem Approach: Consistency in the Regulation of Value Judgments on Ecological Systems. Her thesis was submitted summer 2014.

The ecosystem approach, which requires a holistic and integrated approach towards an ecosystem, has been endorsed in many legal acts and is considered an important strategy to protect our ecosystems. The aim of this thesis is to examine the relationship between the architecture and nature of environmental law and the realization of the ecosystem approach.

Not only is the fragmentation of environmental law a challenge. Also the degree of discretion, which demands the weighing and balancing of clear and short term (economic) interests on the one hand against uncertain, vague, long term effects on ideal, ‘soft’ and disputed values on the other hand, seems to complicate the realization of the ecosystem approach significantly. A certain degree of consistency or coherence in the regulation of value judgments on ecosystems is considered as an important aspect of the ecosystem approach.

Ingrid Wang Andersen: Towards an ecosystem approach in Norwegian water management – the application of EU environmental quality objectives for water resources in Norwegian sector law

The PhD- theses is a project under the ”Consistency in Environmental Law –project”, carried out within the Research Group for Natural Resources Law at the Faculty of Law in Oslo. The main objective of the project is to develop new insights in, and analyze, different parts of law that are important for the protection of the environment. A basic hypothesis is that the problems we face when trying to protect the environment through law are partly due to lack of consistency in the legal system.

The PhD-project will focus on the multi-level dimension of the “Consistency-project”, more specifically, EU law as a framework for Norwegian water recourse governance. As a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), Norway has implemented most of the EU environmental legislation. In 2006, Norway implemented the EU Water Framework Directive (2000/60/EF).

The group participates in the interdisciplinary project ”Water Pollution Abatement in a System of Multi-level Governance: A study of Norway’s implementation of EUs Water Framework Directive” (WAPABAT),

Master theses

Constance Straume Haugland. "Environmental Rights for Future Generations" (2013). The project is based on the premise that the environmental policies of today often will have long term impacts and thereby affect the quality of our decendants' living environment. This raises ethical questions. My thesis will examine whether implementing rights for future generations in environmental law toady, is a suitable approach of handeling some of the problems connected to environmental law today.

Malin Fosse. ”Miljøhensyn ved lokalitetsklarering av akvakulturanlegg”, utgitt i Institutt for offentlig retts skriftserie nr. 4/2011 (Miljørettslige studier nr. 36).

Cathrine Aulie: ”Vern av naturmangfold i EU og Norge” (”Protection of biodiversity in the EU and Norway – a comparison”, in Norwegian), Institutt for offentlig retts skriftserie nr. 3/2011 (Miljørettslige studier nr. 35).

Published June 25, 2012 3:36 PM - Last modified Dec. 6, 2016 11:03 AM

Contact

Professor Endre Stavang, Department of private Law