Environmental Laws and Sustainability: An Introduction

11 Pages Posted: 2 Apr 2011 Last revised: 23 Jul 2015

See all articles by John C. Dernbach

John C. Dernbach

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School

Joel A. Mintz

Nova Southeastern University

Date Written: April 1, 2011


This is an introduction to the special issue on environmental laws and sustainability of the on-line peer review journal, Sustainability. In this introduction, we attempt to synthesize key lessons from the issue’s ten substantive articles. These lessons involve the use of law to achieve integrated decision-making, the use of pre-existing laws to foster sustainability, the centrality of sub-national governments in achieving sustainability, the background law of unsustainable development, the growing importance of climate change, the need to use law to protect and restore ecological integrity, the importance of judicial review and nongovernmental organizations, the need to translate sustainability into specific legal principles, the challenge of creating an appropriate national legal structure for sustainability, the importance of sustainability assessment tools and institutions before and after laws are adopted, and the importance of “soft” law.

Keywords: Environmental Law, Sustainability, Sustainable Development, Integrated Decision-Making, Law For Sustainability, Governance, Law, Legal Institution

JEL Classification: K10, K32, K33, Q01

Suggested Citation

Dernbach, John C. and Mintz, Joel A., Environmental Laws and Sustainability: An Introduction (April 1, 2011). Sustainability, Vol. 3, p. 531, 2011; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 11-14. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1800855

John C. Dernbach (Contact Author)

Widener University - Commonwealth Law School ( email )

3800 Vartan Way
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9380
United States

Joel A. Mintz

Nova Southeastern University ( email )

3301 College Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33314
United States

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