Focused research on high priority legal and institutional challenges for rural communities
Our Research Focus
- Engaged scholarship
- Scientific policy / law
- Multidisciplinary research
- Prestigious research - we are engaged in research which
- Is relevant on the international stage
- Involves a high degree of judgment and skill
- Is strategic.
The AgLaw Centre’s work is currently focused upon the following projects and programmes.
This is a major, multi-collaborator research programme which is focused upon proposing the next generation of integrated natural resource management laws and institutions. The impetus is the realisation that notwithstanding significant investments and legal interventions, rural landscapes continue to degrade. The intention of the research is to propose innovations that overcome identified limitations to present governance arrangements, notably:
- the use of behavioural science to systematically improve the effectiveness of laws, market instruments and social interventions;
- reducing high transaction costs that plague natural resource management programmes, including the effects of complexity and overlap between laws and institutions;
- the need to find effective ways of creating collaboration between those being regulated and regulators, and to harness the good will of consumers and citizens to support sustainability.
◊ Resource Conflicts
As resources become scarce and conservation more important, conflict over resources increases. New methods for sharing and for managing conflicts when they arise will be needed. This research is focused upon innovations to avoid or manage such conflicts. Two themes are being developed:
- Water law and water institutions. This work is particularly concerned with the design of water laws and administrative arrangements so as to allocate resources both equitably and effectively. To date we have conducted extensive research into irrigation institutional arrangements, and in-depth examination of the Murray-Darling Basin plans under the Australian Water Act 2007. We have also considered some international water regimes in Asia. Further work in Australia, India and South East Asia is proposed.
- Mining –related resources conflict. In many parts of the world there is a great deal of conflict triggered by extractive industry developments. The legal and institutional arrangements privilege different interests in different jurisdictions. This research is concerned with exploring the patterns of outcome that arise from different legal and institutional arrangements, and with proposing alternatives that could better suit interests of sustainability and fairness. Case studies in Australia, USA and Iceland are under development.
The key contact for this area of research is Professor Paul Martin.
◊ Rural Social Justice
Rural social justice issues exist in many forms, including inequity of access to resources for less advantaged (notably indigenous) people, and the too-frequent inability of rural and regional citizens to obtain equivalent legal and other services to their urban counterparts. Two areas of research concentration for the Centre are:
- the use of novel legal doctrines to support the protection of indigenous knowledge, including cultural stories and secrets; and
- mechanisms to improve rural access to professional support and resources, and to support rural professionals.
The key contact for this area of research is Dr Amanda Kennedy.
◊ Engaged multi-disciplinary scholarship
One of the central challenges of both natural resources and social justice research is the need to effectively combine a variety of disciplinary perspectives, including law and institutional approaches along with biophysical and social sciences. This is particularly so when the outcome targeted is effective application of the results of the research, and innovative solutions to complex problems. Working particularly with colleagues at Penn State, and with other researchers focused on innovation, adoption and engagement, this programme is in part cross-cutting. It also involves partnership with industry, government and NGO partners in the pursuit of effective application of our research.