New Publication: Framework for Assessing and Improving Law for Sustainability

Despite a proliferation of legal instruments related to the environment, environmental challenges such as ecosystem degradation, climate change and species loss continue to accelerate.  At local, national and global scales, environmental legal systems are not consistently achieving the goals for which they were designed. A new publication by the IUCN Environmental Law Programme proposes ways to better understand and evaluate the effectiveness of environmental law, and to work towards its improvement.  

The Framework for Assessing and Improving Law for Sustainability (2016), edited by Paul Martin, Ben Boer and Lydia Slobodian, represents a collaboration between the IUCN Environmental Law Centre, the World Commission on Environmental Law, and the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.  It includes a framework for evaluating the implementation of legal principles across four levels: instrumental, institutional, behavioural and outcome.  It also includes six case studies, which use the framework to assess legal effectiveness in different countries and contexts, including case studies from Brazil, New Zealand, China, Australia, and South Africa.

The following teams contributed case studies:

  • Evan Hamman, Katie Woolaston, Rana Koroglu, Hope Johnson, Bridget Lewis, Brodie Evans and Rowena Maguire (Queensland University of Technology, Australia);
  • Solange Teles da Silva, Carolina Dutra, Fernanda Salgueiro Borges, Marcia Fajardo Cavalcanti, Mauricio Duarte dos Santos, and Patricia Borba de Souza (Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Brazil);
  • Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, Gay Morgan, Roshni Bava, Mark Calderwood, Michelle Chen, Natalie Forster, Ben Hansard, Sarah Thomson, and Jaime-Anne Tulloch (University of Waikato, New Zealand);
  • Qin Tianbao, Wei Lele, Liu Qing, Duan Weiwei (Wuhan University, China);
  • Karen Bubna-Litic, Emma Goreham, Taylor Pope, Kvitka Becker and Alex Craig (University of South Australia, Australia);
  • Elmien Du Plessis, Amanda Mugadza, Niel Lubbe, Jean-Claude Ashukem (North West University), Suzi Malan (University of British Columbia), Marie Parramon-Gurney (Southern Africa Representative IUCN), Clara Bocchino (University of Pretoria).

The publication was developed in the context of the IUCN Natural Resource Governance Framework, led by the Commission on Environmental Economic and Social Policy (CEESP).  It is intended to serve as a tool for an emerging community of practice in studying and improving the effectiveness of the legal aspects of natural resource governance.

Additional case studies and a platform for development and discussion of the publication exist at

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