Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance

PhD Research

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The Centre constitutes a vibrant and engaging research community where PhD students and their work thrives and flourish. PhD students are active members of SCELG during their stay at the University of Strathclyde and are then offered to collaborate with the Centre as affiliates. Each year the PhD Members of SCELG organise an Environmental Law and Governance PhD Colloquium.

A number of funding opportunities are available for our PhD students, including University of Strathclyde studentships, Campbell Burns Scholarship the IBA Energy Natural Resources post graduate studentships. For further information click here.

Current PhD students:

Eloamaka Okonkwo - The Legal concerns of Environmental Insecurity and Environmental justice in Developing Countries: The Nigeria’s Experience

My research investigates the current environmental situation in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, focusing on the effect of oil exploration activities and its resulting consequences. It examines current environmental pollution laws, enforcement powers of the enforcement agencies and impediments to enforcement, the role of the court and limitations to access to environmental justice. It will emphasize accountability for failure of laws where it fails and the available remedies. The set objective is to find working principles that may be used to ensure institutional accountability for the reduction of environmental injustice in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria.

Jingjing Zhao - How General Rules on Conflict of Norms in International Law Relate to the Relationship between WTO Agreements and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety

Jingjing Zhao joined the Strathclyde Law School as a PhD candidate in October 2010, and has been working as a part-time tutor and lecturer since 2011. Her research is supervised by Professor Mark Poustie and Dr Stephanie Switzer and is supported by the Campbell Burns scholarship. Her research looks at the relationship between WTO agreements and the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and considers how general rules on conflict of norms in international law relate to the international regulation of trade in genetically modified organisms. Jingjing’s main research areas include International Environmental Law, WTO Law, and Public International Law.

Saheed Alabi - Using Litigation to Enforce Obligations under the Global Climate Change and Marine Regimes

My thesis discusses using litigation to reshape global responses to climate change in the face of increasing adverse consequences.  It acknowledges that the implementation of Kyoto Protocol is not adequate to achieve drastic emission reduction and adaptation. The thesis explores how climate litigation could be used as an alternative method of enforcement. In so doing, the thesis proposes to extend the purview of enforcement of climate obligations beyond the climate regime to link global regimes of importance such as human rights, trade and the marine environment. Specifically, it focuses on the linkages between climate change and the marine environment by using the compulsory procedures for settlement of disputes in UNCLOS for potential enforcement of climate obligations. Also, the thesis argues that climate obligations are implicit in UNCLOS. However, the evidence and effectiveness of using litigation to address climate change at the domestic and international levels are explored.

Wanying Huang - Could the legal framework for the trade in international waste promote sustainable development to a greater extent?
International hazardous waste trading from developed states to developing states expanded from the 1980s and this caused various environmental harms in developing states. The international community adopted the Basel Convention in 1989, which seeks to regulate transboundary movement of hazardous wastes.   The Convention which is based upon the concepts of prior informed consent and environmentally sound management is dependent on national enforcement for its effectiveness.  This research seeks to analyse, first, whether the terms of the Basel Convention are sufficiently clear and certain to enable effective enforcement and, second, how effective national enforcement actually is in practice in the UK and China.  It will provide recommendations for enhancing the effectiveness of enforcement in order to better secure compliance with the international regime and national regime and whether that in turn will contribute (positively) to sustainable development.
Ronald Welsh - The WTO Dispute Settlement Understanding(DSU) and LDC countries

My PhD research focusses on the under-utisation of the of the WTO Disputes Settlement Understanding(DSU) by LDC countries. As well as understanding the causal reasons why Least Developed Countries (LDC's) do not use the system it will focus on some potential changes that could be made to the DSU which would encourage LDC's to interact more proactively with the WTO DSU in particular and the WTO in general. WTO disputes can arise in a multiplicity of diverse subject areas many of which have a bearing, either directly or indirectly, to wider aspects of International Environmental Law and thus the non-participation of LDC's represent what one writer described as "an open sore" in the DSU, a system which is regarded as the jewel in the crown of the WTO.

Lannette Kambole Chiti – The role of International energy law in climate change mitigation and sustainable energy development: The case for a comprehensive global multilateral legal framework for energy

It is now widely accepted that energy production and consumption related CO2 emissions are the most significant contributors to global climate change and that a shift to more sustainable energy resources is a key component of effective climate change mitigation. Against this background, my research topic is “The role of International energy law in climate change mitigation and sustainable energy development: The case for a comprehensive global multilateral legal framework for energy”.

My research will examine the extent to which current international energy law is positioned to address the energy-climate nexus, facilitate a global shift to sustainable energy sources and ultimately contribute to climate change mitigation and sustainable development. It will seek to establish that international energy law has an important role to play in global climate change mitigation and the achievement of sustainable development although it is essential to strengthen and make it more relevant to emerging issues.

The ultimate objective of the research is to make a case for the development of a single global multilateral legal instrument to deal with energy issues with an all-encompassing and comprehensive approach that takes into account the emergence of climate change mitigation as a central energy policy issue and the need for a global shift to sustainable energy sources; provoke global action towards the development of the said legal instrument; contribute to a body of international energy law and its architecture; and to address the gap currently existing in scholarly research in terms of addressing the energy-climate change nexus from the international energy law perspective.

Stephanie Hawkins - Governing an Invisible Resource: Legal and Policy considerations for Transboundary Aquifers

I commenced my PhD in law at the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance in January 2015, researching the topic of transboundary aquifer law and policy. My research examines how attention to the concept of water justice can help assess and inform the international legal and policy framework for transboundary aquifer governance. My research is supervised by Dr Francesco Sindico, and my main research areas include public international law, international environmental law, international water law and environmental justice.

John Udonna Elem - Towards Environmental Justice in Nigeria: Implementing the Precautionary Principle and Environmental Impact Assessment

This PhD project aims at examining the application of the Precautionary Principle and EIA in tackling environmental injustice in the Niger Delta Region. Institutional theory besides PP and EIA will be used in achieving this project because the external environment in which these laws operate influences the struggle against environmental injustice in Nigeria.