Regulatory dynamics of sustainability: policy coherence in EU business and financial market law

Attempts to govern human-environmental relationships have proven to not be sufficient to face the systemic perturbations of the biosphere, which is becoming an immense struggle for humanity. In order to safeguard Earth’s life-support system on which the welfare of current and future generations depends, changes in the economic realm are necessary. It is furthermore suggested that humanity is driving global environmental change to the extent that it has pushed us into a new geological epoch — the Anthropocene. Viewing sustainable development in light of humanity having such profound impact on the earth system, there is not only a need to re-think the economic playing field, but the regulatory system that governs it. Sustainable development should therefore be seen as a nested concept where the global economy services society, which lies within Earth’s life-support system. This furthermore implies that the role of investment and hence business and financial market law will outline a crucial part of enabling this transition.

About the Project

This PhD project aims to contribute to a better understanding of the level of coherency in EU business and financial market law in terms of sustainability impact. This will mean to uncover barriers and possibilities for securing long-term business and financial market actions towards a global sustainable development. It will be an article-based thesis structured in four chapters. In the first chapter Hanna aims to identify the governance ‘architecture’, i.e. all relevant international legal instruments, meaning EU legislation and different soft legal instruments related to business and financial market law. In order to do so, and to unveil its regulatory interconnectivity, she will apply a mix-method approach, combining a social network analysis (SNA) methodology with qualitative actor analysis. The second chapter draws attention to the mismatch between business processes and macro ecological processes and boundary conditions. Certain advances in the field have been recognized, but this “corporate-ecological” disconnection is still a concern. Hanna will address this gap through the development of a social-ecological systems (SES) framework for corporate sustainability, focused especially on the boundary conditions set up by the planetary boundaries framework. The framework will furthermore outline a base for further research on the topic of integrating SES thinking in legal frameworks, targeting improved policy coherence for sustainable development. The third chapter seeks to contribute to the literature on polycentric regulation and multi-level governance analysis through the use of a mix-method approach, building on the analysis from the first chapter. Hanna will apply an SNA methodology combined with qualitative analysis in order to contribute to a better understanding of how different actors exert regulatory influence on the topic of sustainable development, across scales. Here she will especially focus on possible legal diffusion processes across scales. The fourth and last chapter will assess the business and financial market law in relation to the European Commission’s workings on ‘policy coherence for development’. In doing so, she will analyse social-ecological dimensions of current plans and policies in order to identify barriers and possibilities for enabling a coherent and sustainable EU business and financial market law. The analysis will build on the results from the first chapters and will use qualitative analyses capturing current state of play, policy hot spots that are potential target for intervention, and necessary goals over time. The last chapter will hence offer recommendations on what should be done in order to improve policy coherence for sustainable development in EU business and financial market law.

This PhD-project is part of the research project Sustainable Market Actors for Responsible Trade (SMART) that is funded by the EU's Framework Programme Horizon 2020.


The PhD will be delivered spring 2020. 


University of Oslo.

Published Feb. 10, 2017 2:12 PM - Last modified Jan. 29, 2019 2:27 PM