UNE academic takes lead in world environmental regulation

Published 13 February 2014

Prof Paul MartinImproving the effectiveness of the law in helping to govern the use of natural resources around the world is the challenge being faced by Professor Paul Martin from the University of New England’s Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law.

Professor Martin has agreed to lead a project on improving the effectiveness of these laws for the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), as part of the development of the IUCN’s  “Natural Resources Governance Framework.”

Professor Martin says the IUCN Natural Resource Governance Framework will develop and apply new approaches to identify the strengths and weaknesses of natural resource decision-making in governments, and to help improve implementation.

“It has become increasingly obvious that simply creating new laws isn’t the most effective way to ensure best environmental practice and decision making. Rather, internationally there is a definite shift toward a focus on ensuring the effectiveness of existing legal instruments.”

Professor Martin, working with the Deputy Chair of the WCEL, Professor Ben Boer, has developed a draft method for evaluation of how effective laws and policies are in actually meeting their objectives.

“The IUCN Framework is a signal of change in environmental law. Developing and testing a method of evaluation is a major challenge, and this work will put UNE’s Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law at the leading edge of applied environmental governance.

“The Centre has been doing significant work on the effectiveness of environmental law since 2005 and just last year UNE’s Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law convened an international research workshop on the Implementation of Environmental Law.”

As part of this work on implementation and the IUCN Framework, a book has been commissioned for publication during 2014, to focus further attention on the challenges of international implementation of environmental legal governance.