January 01, 2017

Resilience in Environmental Law: Existing Measures

Gary E. Marchant and Yvonne A. Stevens

Resilience is the new buzzword in environmental policy. It has become popular because, even if it is not new, it is a newly rediscovered concept that potentially opens the door to unique approaches and solutions to complex environmental problems. It identifies a previously under-appreciated gap in current environmental policies. And yet, at the same time, the concept remains tantalizingly undefined. Like many established and trendy broad concepts, such as sustainability, environmental justice, and precaution, it is imperative to give concrete meaning to, and to identify specific applications of, “resilience.” It is important to do so in order to maximize the value and practical implementation of the concept of resilience, while minimizing the uncertainty and fuzziness around the concept. Resilience has the potential to serve a critical and essential function in effective and holistic environmental policy. Given this essential role, it may not be surprising that resilience has been present in environmental law for decades, even if not fully developed or expressly identified.

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