Transparency and Business in International Environmental Law

46 Pages Posted: 13 Jan 2012

See all articles by Larry Catá Backer

Larry Catá Backer

The Pennsylvania State University (University Park) – Penn State Law

Date Written: January 12, 2012


Transparency has been an important element in the construction of hard and soft law and norm regimes in the international sphere. This chapter considers transparency and business in international environmental law. It is divided into five sections. Section A considers conventional sources of international environmental law for its transparency effects, looking at both hard law and soft law frameworks. Section B examines other potentially applicable transparency rules, principally the recent efforts at transnational regulation of economic actors. It concentrates on two examples — the OECD framework and the recently endorsed Guiding Principles of Business and Human Rights. Section C examines transparency at the intersection of domestic and international law. It concentrates on the environmental transparency effects of extraterritoriality, of the incorporation of international norms within domestic legal orders, and the internationalization of domestic rule frameworks. Section D then considers transparency and governance beyond the state. For that purpose three distinct regimes are identified and examined. The first are hybrid governance efforts — the ISO and Global Compact systems. The second are private non-corporate governance regimes, principally the GRI and product certification programs. Third, private corporate governance transparency regimes are examined. The potential and tensions in transparency are examined more closely in the context of environmental disclosure by BP during the time of the Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill of 2010, which also suggests both the possibilities and limits of domestic and international law, in its transparency aspects. The chapter ends with Section F’s consideration of miscommunication and coherence in moving toward the future of environmental transparency at the international sphere.

Keywords: transparency, corporate governance, soft law, environmental reporting, GRI, Global Compact, OECD

JEL Classification: K33

Suggested Citation

Backer, Larry Catá, Transparency and Business in International Environmental Law (January 12, 2012). Available at SSRN: or

Larry Catá Backer (Contact Author)

The Pennsylvania State University (University Park) – Penn State Law ( email )

Lewis Katz Building
University Park, PA 16802
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics