Biodiversity & Oceans

This Environment and Governance research theme examines the law and governance of biodiversity across multiple jurisdictions and biomes, from terrestrial to marine, with a focus on the effectiveness of existing systems and potential lines of reform. Key projects are outlined below.  

Biodiversity & Oceans Law

This work, led by Scientia Professor Rosemary Rayfuse and Professor Cameron Holley, encapsulates a long-running research effort on the strengths and weaknesses of international law relating to biodiversity protection, fisheries management, and ocean ecosystems. Recent highlights include articles in Marine Policy (The role of law in the regulation of fishing activities in the Central Arctic Ocean), Ecology Law Quarterly (Climate Change and Antarctic Fisheries: Ecosystem Management in CCAMLR), International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (Precaution and the protection of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction), and books such as Trans-jurisdictional Water Law and Governance and Research Handbook on International Marine Environmental Law

Crimes Against Biodiversity

This project, led by Professor Anthony Burke and Dr Stefanie Fishel, aims to develop an understanding and description of a new international criminal law – Crimes Against Biodiversity – which, while inspired by work on the crime of ecocide, shifts the concept into the biodiversity concept and regime, rather than international human rights and humanitarian law. It aims to establish the key elements of the crime, along with proposals to legislate and prosecute it; to develop a legal, governance, and philosophical defence of the crime as a general concept relevant to our times; and to ascertain its potential value as a normative, preventative and policing tool in the global governance and protection of biodiversity. 

A Biosphere Ethics

In this work, Anthony Burke and Stefanie Fishel aim to further develop environmental ethics by creating a ‘materialist’ ethics that takes in the entire biosphere, via arguments that an appreciation of the intrinsic value of nature should be based on its rich diversity, vitality, evolutionary inheritance, its temporal priority to Homo sapiens and its rights to flourish and persist. This work is developed in Burke’s article in 2019 International Political Sociology ('Blue Screen Biosphere: The Absent Presence of Biodiversity in International Law'), and in their book-length work in progress, The Ecology Politic.

Harnessing the growth of private investment in biodiversity and natural capital

Investors are increasingly favouring socially responsible and sustainable investments. A growing asset class is conservation finance, which is investment made directly or indirectly to conserve biodiversity, and maintain natural capital stocks including soil, ecosystems, clean air and water. Using a governance perspective and an agency theoretical framework, in this project Dr Megan Evans will evaluate the effectiveness of impact investing for biodiversity conservation. The impact investing “ecosystem” involves multiple sectors, social networks, and actors. This project will analyse each of these three scales, while drawing lessons across multiple jurisdictions to identify key factors that enable or inhibit the effectiveness of impact investing for biodiversity conservation.

Public Engagement and Media

Dr Megan Evans has been active in response to the Samuels review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act. She has provided comment to the Guardian about the review, written opinion, and spoken to the Wire.