Catching the tide: Reversing legal trends to find collective and long-term solutions that value the natural world

Colin Reid (Lead / Corresponding author)

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The social and economic trends that have contributed to the current climate and biodiversity crises have been created by and reflected in the law in many ways. Looking primarily at experience in the UK, it can be seen that much that is deeply embedded in the law needs to change to enable a more sustainable future. In particular, we have seen a move to greater individualism when we need to adopt more collective solutions, we have seen an emphasis on short-term priorities when we need to take a longer-term view and we have seen a focus on economic and commercial value when we need to value more highly the natural world. The past trends in the evolution of the law must be reversed, requiring consideration across many legal areas. Examples of past evolution are identified to show how the law encourages unsustainable ways of working and obstructs, or fails to enable and incentivise, improvement, before more recent positive developments are discussed to illustrate how legal structures can be recast to support a new way of living based on collective and long-term approaches and a partnership with nature. Ensuring a sustainable future requires a break from many inherited legal structures.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages16
JournalGlobal Policy
Early online date19 Oct 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Oct 2022
EventChallenges to a Sustainable Recovery:
: International Law, Climate Change and Public Health
- University of Durham, Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 15 Sept 202116 Sept 2021


  • Environmental Law
  • Climate Change
  • Sustainability
  • Legal history
  • Land law
  • Legal policy
  • Valuing nature
  • Collective action

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Global and Planetary Change


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