Resilience in Environmental Law: Epistemic Limitations and the Role of Participation
Bridget Hutter (Ed), Risk, Resilience, Inequality and Environmental Law (Edward Elgar, 2017).
19 Pages Posted: 27 Feb 2018
Date Written: February 16, 2007
The concept of resilience is increasingly being invoked as an ideal towards which environmental law and regulation ought to strive. Hand in hand with an increased focus on resilience in risk management practices in general, and partly spurred on by the potential of calamitous events in the form of climate change, a chorus of scholars and environmental campaigners have in the last decade or so added significant voice to the claim that environmental regulation as a body of law ought to be resilient, adaptive and flexible. This chapter, however, argues that many of the features which are considered to reflect key characteristics of resilience are already found in environmental law (that is, for these purposes, UK environmental law). Importantly, however, the chapter also argues that the focus on resilience overlooks the significant limitations inherent in the premises on which the call for resilience rests. The main reason for this is found in the fact that many of the future risks which environmental law is likely to encounter are not, at present, known to us, thereby putting severe limitations on what responses the law can actually draw up. In response to this criticism, the chapter then goes on to examine whether a further and entirely different means of providing for resilience can be procured through the mechanism of public participation. The chapter concludes that, as of yet, and for good reasons, public participation mechanism in environmental law fall somewhat short of being able to provide a corrective emphasis in the drive towards resilience.
Keywords: environmental law, resilience, participation, environmental governance
JEL Classification: K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation