Symposium on Global Environmental Law

4-5 September 2017, University of Strathclyde, Collins Suite (CL 205)

The symposium aims to discuss whether and to what extent the emerging concept/concepts of global environmental law can help shed new light on the evolution and challenges of environmental law across different levels and sectors. The symposium will consider the need for a future research agenda for environmental law scholarship, and the form those directions might take, including theoretical and methodological agendas.

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The proposed programme: areas of reflection and research questions

Introduction – Prof. Elisa Morgera, BENELEX PI, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance (SCELG), Strathclyde Law School

Keynote address – Prof. Neil Walker, University of Edinburgh School of Law, author of Intimations of Global Law (2015)

Day 1 – morning: Theory

  • Is global environmental law merely a helpful teaching and research approach, a governance system, an interpretative approach or a distinct body of law? 
  • Does global environmental law usefully add to existing theories of international and transnational environmental law?
  • Is global environmental law neutral or does it come loaded with a baggage of normative presumptions? Whose goals is it pursuing? Whose (world)views of the environment, and of the relationship between environment and society, is it based upon? Are global public goods an inherently positive driver for global environmental law?
  • To what extent does global environmental law engage with theories of justice? Does the plurality of actors and actions come with implications for the definition of public goods, primacy of certain goods over others, the role of the State and concepts of legitimacy?
  • Is there a place for ethics in global environmental law scholarship and practice (technical advice)?

Chair: Prof. Elisa Morgera, BeneLex PI 
Discussant: Prof Neil Walker 


  • Prof Michael Mehling, Deputy Director of the Centre for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at MIT and Professor at SCELG
  • Prof Kati Kulovesi, University of Eastern Finland*
  • Prof Duncan French, University of Lincoln School of Law*
  • Dr Antonio Cardesa-Salzmann, SCELG

Day 1 – afternoon: Practice (I)

  • How has global environmental law manifested itself in each of the selected subject areas?
  • Is the interaction between international/EU/national environmental law, multilateral and bilateral initiatives, and the customary law of indigenous peoples and local communities the result of an increasingly conscious and strategic reliance on the mutual influences between different legal orders? Is the reliance on a multiplicity of actors and multiplicity of legal orders resulting in mutual supportiveness or fragmentation of environmental law?
  • Which actors and practitioners, and their views, are particularly influential in the development of global environmental law and to what ends? 
  • Can international law address the specificities of local complexities?

Chair: Dr Francesco Sindico, UN Environment
Discussant: Dr Annalisa Savaresi, BENELEX researcher, Stirling University


  • Dr Kim Bouwer, SCELG: global climate change law
  • Dr Emanuela Orlando, University of Sussex: global dimensions of environmental liability and environmental crime
  • Dr Daniela Diz, SCELG: global dimensions of the international law of the sea

Day 2 - morning: Practice (II)

Chair: Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
Discussant: Elsa Tsioumani, BENELEX researcher, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance


  • Prof Natasha Affolder, University of British Columbia: beyond 'actors' - the peopling of global environmental law
  • Dr Lorenzo Cotula*, International Institute for Environment and Development*: international investment law from a global environmental law perspective
  • Prof Melissa Tatum, Arizona University: Customary law of indigenous communities - making space on the global environmental stage

Day 2 - afternoon: Methodology

  • Do global environmental law scholars need a distinctive methodology? Which existing methodological approaches (in particular the debate on the comparative legal method/s) may be relevant, and what risks and challenges can they bring about?
  • What role and challenges for inter-disciplinarity in global environmental law scholarship?
  • What role and challenges for empirical research in global environmental law scholarship?
  • What role and challenges for big data in global environmental law scholarship?

Chair: Louisa Parks, BENELEX researcher, University of Lincoln School of Social and Political Sciences
Discussant: Dr Saskia Vermeylen, Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance


  • Prof Barbara Pozzo, Università degli Studi dell'Insubria: comparative legal methods for global environmental law research?
  • Prof Adrian Martin, University of East Anglia: integrating social sciences in global environmental law research
  • Prof Burkhard Schafer, University of Edinburgh School of Law: big data and global environmental law research
  • Dr Claire Lajaunie, French Institute of Health and Medical Research and Prof. Pierre Mazzega, French National Centre for Research: mapping the transformations of global environmental law

Concluding remarks - Prof Richard Falk, author of This Endangered Planet (1972)

Civic Reception (open to all registered symposium participants) at Glasgow City Chambers

* Members of the BeneLex Board of Advisors