Keynote: Sustaining Society in the Anthropocene Epoch

40 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 2014

Date Written: 2013


This paper explores the argument that human transformation of Earth's systems is eclipsing the international law-making of nation states. Globally the processes of trade law or environmental law often progress transnationally, with little direction by national governments. Intergovernmental and non-governmental international organizations act with autonomy, apart from nations. To be clear, nation states still are the major players in world order, but trends of sustainable development or social networked communications transcend individual nations. Whether viewed as environmental law or sustainability law, this body of law exists at once globally and locally; it is different in kind from the Westphalia legacy of law existing separately at international and national levels. This paper explores how the concepts of environmental sustainability permeate how human society is responding to the many changes humans have made affecting the Earth. Since 1992, concepts of sustainability or sustainable development have been tested as ways to adapt to the new conditions. However, successfully adapting to today's global environmental conditions entails reassessing the assumptions with which society has governed itself since 1945. What principles should guide socio-ecological relations in coming years?

Keywords: ecology, socio-ecology, international law, environmental law, anthropocene

JEL Classification: K32, K33, Q00

Suggested Citation

Robinson, Nicholas A., Keynote: Sustaining Society in the Anthropocene Epoch (2013). Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 41, pp. 467, 2013, Available at SSRN:

Nicholas A. Robinson (Contact Author)

Pace University - School of Law ( email )

78 North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10603
United States

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