Ross, Andrea


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1993 …2021

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Personal profile


Andrea Ross joined what is now the School of Law at the University of Dundee in 1996, was promoted to Senior Lecturer in January 2000, to Reader in 2011 and to Professor of Environmental Law in 2012. She was previously a lecturer in the Department of Land Economy at the University of Aberdeen. A qualified barrister and solicitor in Ontario Canada, she has also worked as corporate counsel in the head office of investment company Midland Walwyn Inc.
Professor Ross has taught and researched in the areas of public and environmental law for almost 25 years. The co-author of a book on Scottish devolution and the editor of a collection on environmental regulation, Andrea is best-known for her extensive research into the concept of sustainable development.   Her comprehensive review of sustainable development law and her authoritative text on sustainable development law in the UK has provided novel solutions for reform.  Her work underpinned the introduction of the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and has been influential in the development of legislation, understanding and implementation of sustainable development law in Scotland. Her work engages directly with the legislatures, government administrations and their agencies throughout the UK and has been used by environmental NGOs and professional bodies to critique and influence government behaviour.
Professor Ross has held research grants from the AHRC, ESRC, British Academy, British Council, UKCLE, SPTL, Scottish Natural Heritage and the Overseas Development Agency. She has contributed to inquiries both in the UK and Scottish Parliaments.
She regularly responds to consultations in relation to UK, Scottish and Welsh environmental and planning law and is the academic member of the Law Society for Scotland’s planning law sub-committee. She is a member of the Society of Legal Scholars, Socio-Legal Studies Association, International Sustainable Development Research Society and is a regular contributor to academic and professional journals and conferences.


Undergraduate:- English Property Law, Planning law, Environmental law, Climate Change Law

Postgraduate:- Environmental Regulation, Sustainable Development, Environmental Justice.

Sustainable development is core to her teaching and she has presented on Education for Sustainable Development internally at Dundee and for external groups such as  Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC)


Two overarching themes underpin Professor Ross’ research: the accountability of government in the context of environmental protection generally and the implementation of sustainable development.  These themes are evident in her book Sustainable Development Law in the UK – from Rhetoric to Reality which is considered an authority on SD law: One reviewer noted that ‘the book seeks to move on the agenda on sustainable development law, even if in the current fiscal and economic climate it is arguably, at least in some parts of the UK, ahead of its time.’  Another said, ‘The UK owes Andrea Ross a debt for producing the first comprehensive examination of sustainable development in the UK from a legal perspective’. A third stated, ‘Ross’ work is an authority in itself and one that not only provokes reflection on the failings of sustainable development in the past but opens the doors of possibility on how such failings might be overcome in the future’).

Professor Ross is a leading expert on sustainable development (SD) law. She is best known for her detailed examination of SD from legal and national perspectives. Her work has contributed to the understanding and evolution of the term ‘SD’ by highlighting inconsistencies in its interpretation and use within UK administrations and over time, including: the shifting emphasis within SD between economic, social and environmental concerns, tensions between short term and long-term goals, and the relationship between SD and the climate change agenda. Notably her work has shown how interpretations of SD that prioritise growth have led to inconsistency in decision-making, a preference for short term solutions and a lack of progress towards real SD goals.

Following on from this, Professor Ross has also shown how law can be instrumental in delivering ecological sustainability (ES), the concept of living within the Earth’s limits.  Her more recent work has shown how this approach is consistent with the UK’s legal and cultural traditions and how other agendas (notably, Scottish and Welsh nationalism, climate change, land reform and human rights) fit within this vision of SD and can contribute positively to successful long-term solutions. Her work was a key driver behind the decision in Wales to introduce what eventually became the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and is informing action on embedding sustainable development in Scotland by the Scottish Parliament.

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 2 - Zero Hunger
  • SDG 7 - Affordable and Clean Energy
  • SDG 8 - Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • SDG 9 - Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure
  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 11 - Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • SDG 13 - Climate Action
  • SDG 15 - Life on Land
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions


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