Sustainability & Public Law

Five PhD research projects focusing on different aspects of sustainability and public law

Each of the research projects is summarized briefly below. The PhD candidates strive to collaborate where possible, to deepen their understanding of the often complex and multidisciplinary legal questions and issues related to sustainability and public law, and to share their findings and best practices. Another aim of this collaboration is to increase the outreach of the research projects, both within the academic community and to the general public.

‘The right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment: towards a new Dutch fundamental right?’ - Sandra Arntz

In 2022 the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe called on member states to reflect on the nature, content and implications of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and to actively consider recognizing the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right at the national level. This study explores the extent to which the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is protected in the Netherlands, and what the Netherlands can learn from the choices and considerations of countries that have already adequately shaped a fundamental right to a clean and/or healthy and/or sustainable environment.

‘Carbon sequestration: a legal examination of its possibilities and difficulties’ – Sjoerd Bakker

This research project examines the legal aspects of carbon sequestration in the Netherlands. CO2 has a negative effect on the climate. That effect can be lowered by reducing carbon emissions at source. However, reduction at source is insufficient to achieve climate neutrality in the future. Forests, plants and the earth's soil can sequester carbon. Preserving (and developing) natural sources for carbon sequestration is necessary for a climate-neutral society. Carbon sequestration is regulated at member state level through the LULUCF regulation. In addition, there are numerous legal issues surrounding carbon certificates.

‘Eco-eco migration: climate change and labour migration in the EU’ – Samuel Ballin

This research project examines the position of third-country national migrant workers in relation to economic-ecological pressures and vulnerabilities, and the protection of related rights and resilience under EU migration law. The project considers diverse examples of labour migration, bringing together legal analysis and new empirical data to develop fresh insights into the climate-migration nexus beyond the thorny question of causation. It seeks to understand such vulnerabilities as they are experienced by migrant workers in practice, and to analyse the role of EU migration law as a framework for adaptation and protection.

‘The what, why and how of prosecuting environmental harm on the basis of international criminal law’ – Sophie van Dongen

This research project focuses on international criminal law and environmental harm. It is centered around three main research questions: i. For the purpose of the application of international criminal law, who are the perpetrators and victims of, and what types of conduct can lead to environmental harm? ii. To what extent is the prosecution of environmental harm on the basis of international criminal law justified by international human rights and the international harm principle? iii. To what extent can international criminal law provide a basis for the prosecution of perpetrators of environmental harm?

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