Transnational Sustainability Law: Whither International Environmental Law?

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The state of the global environment is deteriorating
despite the proliferation of international environmental
law.1 Yet, as Reisman aptly observes, “[m]uch of the
writing in contemporary international environmental law
is passionately and uncritically advocative”.2 This might
be because, notwithstanding the limited success of
international environmental law to date, we believe in
the constructive role it can play in addressing declining
global environmental conditions.3 The increasing
complexity of the Earth’s systems (legal and physical),
however, imposes new challenges on international
environmental law. New questions need to be raised and
addressed to make international environmental law more
effective in problem solving. For example, what are the
implications of the world’s transition into the
“Anthropocene epoch” for international environmental
law?4 And how is globalisation changing the ways in
which international environmental law operates?5 These
questions require a much lengthier treatment than the
space allowed here. This article offers some preliminary
thoughts on the future of international environmental law
in this era of complexity, and sketches the emerging
contours of what the author terms “transnational
sustainability law”. It is comprised of three sections,
each focusing on one word of the phrase “international
environmental law”.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)405-408
JournalEnvironmental Policy and Law
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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