How can the Earth be saved by law?

PhD Justyna Goździewicz-Biechońska carries out research on legal aspects of Environmental Protection, with special focus on conservation of natural resources (namely land and landscape protection) as well as agricultural - food systems and their impact on the Environment.

What is Environmental Law? 

Despite appearances, this area of law does not deal with environmental protection as such, as this is what Sozology focuses on.  Actually, environmental law, as any branch of law, regulates behavior of people.

Environmental law is a system of rules  governing human interaction with their natural environment with the aim of solving environmental issues and fostering sustainable management of natural resources.

How does the Environmental Law pursue these objectives?

Human footprint is a global issue and triggers a selection of negative impacts on the environment, for instance the scarcity of natural resources such as soil and water which, within the context of a dynamic population growth, brings about conflicts. Our goal is to prevent or at least reduce frictions by introducing legal measures regulating the use of natural resources.

Environmental pollution is yet another concern. The existing legal instruments of environmental protection are designed to prevent pollution by controlling human activity. However if these measures remain ineffective, the law defines liability rules under the „polluter pays” principle.

It is both challenging and engaging to formulate such norms, encompassing all these issues. Being a relatively new discipline of law, Environmental Protection Law keeps developing dynamically.

What seems to be currently the biggest challenge for the Environmental Law?

It is, without doubt, the climate crisis. The climate change ranks among the so-called wicked problems, complex issues that are extremely difficult to resolve. Therefore, it is not possible to overcome the crisis merely by means of legal instruments.

Nevertheless they do play a crucial role in the process. The biodiversity loss, being strictly related to the climate change and global warming, is another challenging issue. Right now it is absolutely essential for the Environmental Law to decide how it can contribute to climate and biodiversity protection.