International and European Biodiversity Law


Nature and biodiversity (variation of life on Earth) are of fundamental importance for humans. Biodiversity loss is, next to climate change, the most serious environmental problem humans are facing.

This course aims at giving students knowledge and insight in international and European biodiversity law. Attention is given to the importance of biodiversity for humans, the problem of biodiversity loss, causes (the "ecological footprint"), the consequences for humans and possible solutions in international and European policy and law. Next to more conventional approaches (protection of threatened species and nature areas), new evolutions in policy and law will be introduced (e.g. restoration and financing of "ecosystem services"). Biodiversity policy and law is set in a broader context (relation between economy and nature, economic valuation of ecosystems, sustainable development, integration with other policy domains). Biodiversity law has an impact on various other aspects of law and policy and is crucial for our economic thinking and for building a more sustainable society, both local and global.


This course consists of three parts.

The first part is an introduction and includes main international and regional actors and sources of biodiversity law; ethical and social background; ecological background (the role and loss of biodiversity, consequences of biodiversity loss); the legal regime of natural resources, measures for biodiversity conservation).

The second part describes and evaluates the main international (global) instruments on biodiversity (including the Biodiversity convention, World Heritage Convention, conventions on the protection of specific ecosystems and specific species).

The third part deals with EU policy and law on biodiversity (EU directives, relation with other policy domains, external policy). Specific attention is given to case law of the European Court of Justice relating to biodiversity and the impact thereof on economic activities.

Specific topics can be dealt with by guest speakers (e.g. exploitation of mineral resources and the impact on the environment and human rights).

Students are asked to submit a short written contribution on a national court's case on biodiversity law. The cases will be discussed in class.

One or more field visits will be made to Flemish nature areas, in order to look at the application of European biodiversity law in practice.

Key words: 
Biodiversity, nature conservation, management of natural resources, international biodiversity law, European biodiversity law
Faculty members: