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The world community has acknowledged that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat to human societies and the planet. The need for an effective, urgent and global response has been emphasized by both the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The widest possible cooperation of all countries is essential for successfully reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. Countries are also encouraged to cooperate in the implementation of respective climate adaptation measures, especially in terms of enhancing the resiliency of developing countries and regions vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. In addition, climate action can significantly contribute to the achieving of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, to ensure universal access to affordable, reliable and modern energy. The UNEP has also recognized the security implications of climate change for fragile regions potentially leading to social tensions, upheavals, and instability. The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that, on average, 22.5 million people have been displaced by climate or weather-related events each year since 2008. 

International law has enormous potential to address the aforementioned challenges related to climate change, sustainable development, and environmental protection, since global and ambitious actions, based on international cooperation, are required.  

Although the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement are considered landmark achievements, their potential may be undermined by the current crisis of the traditional international law system. Raising distrust towards multilateral governance among states is represented by contestation of universal values, anti-institutional and isolationist sentiments around the world. Various stakeholders are of the opinion that international law does not keep pace with global changes, as well as changes within society. Global governance is blamed for its inability to address current challenges.

Against the background of the current backlash against global governance, the IG on International Environmental Law seeks to discuss the role of international law in pursuing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. International law has the potential to cope with various global challenges, including sustainable development, climate change, and environmental protection and may rebuild trust to multilateral governance. There is an undisputed momentum for sustainable development and climate change which should be maintained, in good times and even more in times of disorder and contestation. 

Beyond the most recent achievements of the Paris Agreement and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the international community is already equipped with several instruments to keep advancing and implementing actions towards sustainable development, the protection of the environment, the fight against climate change and ultimately the respect of the basic human rights, that are at stake when the Earth is in danger. States have an obligation to take positive and incremental measures to safeguard the right to a clean and healthy environment. Moreover, States have a duty to prevent severe environmental pollution that could put human life and health in danger, to implement reparatory actions that might resolve past harm. Furthermore, States should not omit to act, should adopt precautionary measures and should cooperate to prevent violations of human rights. The prevention of negative effects to human life and health caused by climate change is certainly part of this State’s obligation, even more in times when these risks are dramatically accentuating.

The IG on International Environmental Law invites contributions on the role of international law in pursuing sustainable development goals and tackling climate change in times of disorder and contestation, (not exhaustively) under the following themes:

1) Sustainable Development as a general principle of public international law and international environmental law

2) Climate Change as a component of the EU Global strategy 

3) Solutions to migration linked to climate adaptation and mitigation

4) Law on Sustainable Development in times of disorder and contestation

5) Challenges to the global governance of climate change: Is the current legal and institutional framework effective?

6) Backlash against international law: Implications for climate action

7) Role of non-state actors in climate change governance

This call is open for senior and junior academics, as well as practitioners of international organizations and NGOs working in these areas. The objective is to optimize research impact of our participants by engaging the different communities of practice in law, political science, climatology or environmental science in this interdisciplinary field of sustainability, energy and environment. 


All Members of the ESIL Interest Group on International Environmental Law, the members of other ESIL IGs and also the non-ESIL members (ESIL membership might be required if the abstract is selected) are invited to submit abstracts.


The following must be submitted to and by December 15, 2017:

1) The author’s name and affiliation; 

2) A 500-700-word abstract [Word file and PDF]; 

3) The author’s CV, including a list of relevant publications; 

4) The author’s contact details, including email address and phone number; 

5) Whether the author is an ESIL member

Multiple abstracts from the same authors will be considered, but only one can be selected. Co-authored multidisciplinary papers are also welcomed. Applicants will be informed of the selection committee’s decision no later than December 20, 2017

Expenses of selected speakers during the conference

The Organizers are unable to provide funding for any cost related to the participation to the conference.

Publication opportunities

The organizers have publication plans for the presented papers. The precise format of publication will be discussed during the conference. The Organizers envisage to publish a Special Issue on Peer-reviewed or US Law Journal. In any event, there is already an established agreement to publish the results of this conference in the Routledge Publishing (New-York/London) multidisciplinary gLAWcal book series on “Transnational Law and Governance”.

Organizing Committee

Paolo Davide Farah (West Virginia University, John D. Rockefeller IV School of Policy and Politics, USA & gLAWcal – Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development, UK) and Martin Svec (Masaryk University, Czech Republic & gLAWcal – Global Law Initiatives for Sustainable Development, UK)