This research project, led by Dr Michael Molavi, explores the law and politics of environmental legal mobilisation. As a research field, it is situated at the intersection of human rights, legal mobilisation, and environmental studies.
In the face of growing environmental problems, a range of environmental actors have increasingly pursued legal avenues for environmental rights protection and regulatory enforcement. This has formed an integral part of the contemporary environmental governance landscape across the world. The extent to which environmental actors have mainstreamed legal mobilisation since the 1970s, starting in the USA and proliferating globally, has led to the growing recognition that we are witnessing a judicialisation of environmental disputes. There has also been a concomitant recognition of the growing importance of the role of civil society organisations and actors to engage in such rights and regulatory enforcement activities, particularly when confronted by negligible public enforcement and inhospitable political climates.
This research project investigates these dynamics of contemporary environmental governance in comparative perspective. In so doing, this project examines the multi-level legal opportunity structures in which environmental actors are situated (and contribute to shaping). The interdisciplinary nature of this research thus includes a wide range of variables, including: the economics of legal mobilisation, notably third party funding, crowdfunding, and fundraising campaigning; the rules and mechanisms that set the parameters for legal action and permit collective forms of claims-making, such as environmental class actions; and the social and political context in which such mobilisation takes place, which involves empirical analyses of social movement and civil society organisation activities and strategies, processes of environmental policy formation and implementation, and the broader political opportunity structures for environmental rights protection and enforcement.