Law Coming to the Aid of the Environment
The Kyoto Protocol, Action 21 and the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development are just three of several international agreements that have prompted countries to make major commitments toward sustainable development. But have these countries lived up to their promises? Could law play a role in enforcement?
As Canada Research Chair, legal expert Paule Halley is examining changes in environmental law and how these changes are helping meet the challenges of sustainable development and globalization. Environmental criminal law and its role in protecting the environment is one of her most important areas of research.
"Over the past 30 years, environmental criminal law has begun to outlaw different kinds of pollution," Dr. Halley points out. "This has forced companies to introduce production methods that are more environmentally friendly and better meet their legal obligations to minimize risks to health and safety."
In fact, over the past few years new regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment have been springing up in Canada, the U.S., France and the U.K. over the past few years. By examining these voluntary approaches to environmental protection, Dr. Halley will examine how environmental agreements are negotiated between government and other stakeholders, such as industry and agricultural associations and citizens' groups.
"We want to understand how these regulatory mechanisms work and to what extent they foster public participation," she explains. "This will enable us to assess their effectiveness promoting sustainable development and to determine whether providing them with a legal framework will ensure that they produce tangible benefits."
Dr. Halley will also be investigating the development of international environmental criminal law. She believes that the urgency to achieve sustainable development and the resulting concerns over public health, security and international competition will prompt countries all over the world to harmonize their environmental laws and introduce matching regulations on pollution.
Using the results of Dr. Halley's research, governments, corporations and voluntary organizations around the world will be able to evaluate their strategies and adopt environmental protection regulations that are more effective and more suited to the world of today.