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Spring 2023: Comparative and Global Perspectives

Vantage Point

Madeline June Kass


  • Discusses the overall theme of the Comparative and Global Perspectives issue of NR&E.
  • Articles explore the rights of Nature, emerging ESG frameworks, chemical impact assessments, human rights to a healthy environment, and more.
  • Proposes familiarizing yourself with the laws, rules, and principles adopted by other nations.
Vantage Point
Viktor Posnov via Getty Images

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The famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma once said, “[O]ur cultural strength has always been derived from our diversity of understanding and experience.” Arguably, our “legal strength” benefits in similar fashion from a diversity of perspectives on law and policy approaches. In familiarizing ourselves with the laws, rules, and principles adopted by other nations, there lies the possibility we can expand our cache of regulatory tools and deepen understanding of our own legal system.

Indeed, comparing oneself to others allows for greater self-knowledge. With comparative law, [we expand] the horizon and the interpretive field of vision. Comparative law enriches the options available to us. In different legal systems, similar legal institutions often fulfill corresponding roles, and similar legal problems [arise]. . . . Moreover, because many of the basic principles of democracy are common to democratic countries, there is good reason to compare them (“macrocomparison”). Indeed, different democratic legal systems often encounter similar problems. Examining a foreign solution may help [us] choose the best local solution.

Aharon Bank, The Judge in a Democracy 197 (2006). Accordingly, I hope that in collecting and sharing a diversity of legal perspectives—comparative and global—this issue may inspire reader insights for addressing the environmental and natural resources challenges we face today.

With this hope in mind, the articles leading off the issue offer comparative perspectives on protecting nature, wildlife, and oceans. Sam Bookman’s article on rights of nature in comparative perspective surveys laws and judicial decisions recognizing “Nature” as a legal person possessing rights. Next, Temple Stoellinger’s article compares wildlife protection laws and emerging species conservation policies of the European Union and the United States in the face of drastically declining biodiversity. A final comparative article, co-authored by Caleen Kufera and John Travers, explores Norway and the United States’ “Blue Economy” policies in the Arctic Ocean as an emerging flashpoint for future of environmental regulation.

A second set of articles offer global perspectives on a mélange of environmental challenges. Authors Samuel Brown, Scott Kimpel, Alexandra Hamilton, and Julia Casciotti consider the global and local implications of emerging environmental, social, and governance frameworks. Moving into the scientific-regulatory realm of chemical impact assessment, authors Mary M. MaloneyHuss, Jeffrey Driver, and Tom Parker raise and respond to growing global concerns that regulatory limits based on single substance risk assessments are not adequately protective, especially for compromised or sensitive populations. After chemical impact assessment, we shift to environmental assessment with Tseming Yang’s piece on the spread of the National Environmental Policy Act around the globe and the resulting contribution to foreign legal systems and international environmental law.

The final three articles consider global perspectives on human rights to a healthy environment, the role of nonstate actors in international environmental law, and an international greenhouse gas rule for commercial aircraft emissions. Author Emily Bergeron considers how various international conventions, treaties, legislation, litigation, constitutional law, and other legal authorities address the human right to a healthy environment. Next comes Jesse Medlong, Amanda McCaffrey, and Alberto Corona’s take on private stakeholder engagement as a new norm in international environmental law. Wrapping up the issue, authors Norman A. Dupont and Sage P. Ertman consider whether an international rule adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency for commercial aircraft will (or won’t) promote cleaner air.

No doubt, the articles in this issue offer up a smorgasbord of perspectives. So go ahead, chew on something new.

    Issue Editor