Rule of Law for Nature: New Dimensions and Ideas in Environmental Law, edited by Christina Voigt, published by Cambridge University Press, 2013, 408pp., £70.00, hardback.

AuthorRichard Caddell
Date01 November 2014
Published date01 November 2014
mental institutions in the book
might more explicitly identify the
role that legal rules play in environ-
mental governance systems. This
would increase the chances of
reaching out to legal academics and
practitioners who would in our view
benefit from the interdisciplinary
framework for analysis of environ-
mental problems that the book
Environmental and climate change
lawyers will find the approach
Young takes to environmental
problem solving to be a refreshing
and illuminating alternative to tra-
ditional legal analysis. Instead of
merely exploring the content of
existing legal rules and applying
them to environmental problems,
Young emphasizes the importance
of understanding the systemic
nature of environmental problems.
This is a starting point from
which effective governance struc-
tures, including legal rules, can be
designed and implemented. This
book should be of great assistance
to lawyers wishing to think beyond
existing legal rules and in desi-
gning alternative environmen-
tal governance strategies for the
future. As Young argues, the
Anthropocene is a ‘game changer’
(p. 130) that must be taken into
account when designing environ-
mental governance strategies for
the future. Young’s accessible
approach should see environ-
mental and climate change
lawyers engage more fully in this
dialogue and provide an even
more valuable contribution to the
development of climate change
Jeffrey McGee
Senior Lecturer
Newcastle Law School
University of Newcastle
Kerryn Brent
PhD Candidate
Newcastle Law School
University of Newcastle
Rule of Law for Nature:
New Dimensions and Ideas
in Environmental Law,
edited by Christina Voigt,
published by Cambridge
University Press, 2013,
408pp., £70.00, hardback.
In recent years, strong concerns
have been expressed that current
environmental law frameworks
have proved insufficient to foster
meaningful improvements to the
variety of ecosystems affected by
anthropogenic activities. Despite an
ever-expanding collection of regula-
tory initiatives and actors at the
global, regional and international
levels, considerable ecological prob-
lems remain. The global community
roundly failed to meet the 2010 bio-
diversity loss target set by the
Climate change commitments
remain decidedly elusive. Mean-
while the land, air and sea-space of
the planet continue to provide
numerous sobering examples of
over-consumption and poor stew-
ardship of global resources. Con-
ceptually, there have long been calls
for a more explicit link between the
environmental regulation of human
activity and the inherent rights of
nature to survive and flourish. From
Christopher Stone’s seminal call to
facilitate the public enforcement of
the interests of the natural environ-
ment, to D’Amato and Chopra’s
thesis as to the right to life for iconic
species, there are numerous
examples of advocacy towards a
more tangible constitution for
natural values and objects. In this
enlightening, thought-provoking
and challenging volume, Christina
Voigt advances such calls further
with an extensive review of develop-
ments across a wide variety of
sectors to advance a discernible rule
of law for nature.
Rule of Law for Nature: New
Dimensions and Ideas in Environ-
mental Law comprises 21 substan-
tive chapters from an extensive
cast of expert contributors drawn
across a wide range of regulatory
fields. The book opens with a series
of philosophical chapters outlining
how a discernible rule of law for
nature might be conceptualized
and advanced. In Voigt’s preface,
she establishes the central argu-
ment of the book: that a clearer
and more environmentally
grounded set of guiding objectives,
fundamental principles and legal
machinery is necessary for effective
ecological protection worldwide.
Hans Christian Bugge sets the
scene by reflecting on the funda-
mental challenges inherent in
current environmental lawmaking,
with a regulatory ethos that is pre-
dominantly centred on localized
self-interest, and identifying a
series of factors that impede politi-
cal and popular will to address par-
ticular problems. Following this
theme, Edith Brown Weiss, in a
typically insightful contribution,
addresses the problems posed by
the ‘kaleidoscopic’ legal landscape,
in which the sheer scale of actors,
institutions and initiatives often
struggles to facilitate normative
and practical coherence. Nicholas
Robinson then moves to discuss
‘evolved norms’, outlining the tra-
jectory of particular approaches to
environmental regulation that have
blossomed into guiding principles
in decision making, suggesting that
such a process demonstrates that
nature rights exhibit the potential
to be taken seriously as elevated
components of the normative land-
scape. Klaus Bosselmann examines
the potential foundations for a rule
of law for nature, reflecting on the
core objectives of the rule of law
generally and identifying central
imperatives that may be of particu-
lar importance to this concept in
the context of the natural world.
Cormac Cullinan further advances
this theme by arguing that the
current environmental governance
failures necessitate a reconceptua-
lization of the rule of law in this
context, so as to ground regulation
Review of European Community & International Environmental Law
Book Reviews RECIEL 23 (3) 2014
© 2014 John Wiley & Sons Ltd

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