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New handbook for improving the effectiveness of nature protection rules

17 November 2021

The EU is a global leader in ambitious environmental laws and regulations. However, its effectiveness is seriously compromised by poor compliance and implementation at Member State level.

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With the UNECE Aarhus Convention (1998), Europe launched an innovative legal experiment to give citizens and environmental organizations a more active role in enforcing environmental rules. The Convention does this by guaranteeing procedural rights for citizens and environmental organizations in the areas of access to environmental information, public participation in decision-making and access to the courts in environmental matters.

Until now, however, little is known about the effect of this Convention in practice: does it indeed succeed in activating citizens and environmental organizations and does this actually lead to increased compliance with the rules? The interdisciplinary, empirical Effective Nature Laws project (funded by the European Research Council) has tried to gain more insight into this. Edwin Alblas , recently appointed as post-doc researcher at the Faculty of Law of the University of Groningen (Centre of Energy Law and Sustainability), was one of the leading researchers of the project, which was carried out at University College Dublin between 2015-2020 under the supervision of Professor Suzanne Kingston.

Alblas: 'With over 10 researchers and 50 student assistants, we mapped the developments in nature conservation regulation by coding over 6,000 laws at three levels (international, European and national law) and in three countries (Ireland, France and the Netherlands). In addition, we conducted over 2000 surveys and 165 interviews with environmental organizations, citizens and farmers. In this way we gained more insight into the effectiveness of nature protection rules and the Aarhus mechanisms in practice.

On Friday 12 November, the results of the research were presented during an online symposium. This symposium will soon be available via this link. In addition, a handbook was published in which the most important results are described and concrete recommendations for policy are made. For more information about this research and the findings, please contact:

This article was published by the Faculty of Law.

Last modified:04 July 2022 09.31 a.m.
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