We explore the complex relationships between humans, the natural environment and biological diversity

One of the major challenges of the 21st Century is how to respond to the significant challenges posed by these relationships, including food and water security, the global ‘carbon crisis’, and the responsibility of humans in the Anthropocene.

Our researchers work on a broad array of important issues, including animal law, environmental and planning law, bio-discovery laws, intellectual property protection for naturally occurring organisms, and water rights and obligations. We also investigating legal (and extra-legal) mechanisms for effectively regulating water conservation, ecological restoration, climate change and alternative energy, exploitation of mineral resources within and beyond national jurisdiction, the Polar Regions, and the protection of biological diversity and use of genetic resources.

Program Mission

To solve legal, social and ecological challenges in the Anthropocene by thinking globally, acting locally and influencing universally.

Program Vision

A new relationship with food and nature through strong and fair earth governance.

Purpose and areas of expertise

Our Program’s scope is much broader than environmental law and extends to many facets of our relationship with nature: food security (e.g. agriculture, animal welfare and aquaculture), health security (e.g. water, climate change), social security (e.g. rights and urban planning) and economic security (e.g. carbon governance, blue economy).

Our areas of expertise include:

  • Food and agriculture/aquaculture law
  • Ecological law and earth jurisprudence
  • Animal law
  • Urban spaces
  • Environmental and planning law
  • Biodiversity law
  • Water law
  • Intellectual property
  • Climate change and carbon governance
  • Blue economy

Collaborative Projects (Highlights)

Rights of Nature in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction

More than 60% of the world’s ocean biodiversity is legally unprotected. These are the areas beyond national jurisdiction, which include life in the high seas (international waters) and in the ocean floor below the high seas water column. The United Nations is currently negotiating an ocean treaty under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in these waters.

Griffith University (QLD), together with its partners the International Institute for Environment and Development (UK), ANCORS Nereus program at University of Wollongong (NSW) and the Australian Earth Laws Alliance (QLD), held a side event in New York during the UN negotiations in August 2019 to explore new ideas for addressing key elements of the draft treaty text. One element was a ground-breaking exploration of how ‘Rights of Nature’ concepts may apply to the context of governing ocean biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction, which is not subject to sovereign rights.

The Rights of Nature approach represents a paradigm shift, where nature is recognized as having its own legal right to exist, regenerate and evolve. Law and Nature Program members continue to collaborate with local and overseas academics and policy makers to publish papers and develop research projects that build awareness and debate about new approaches to international environmental law in the ocean context. https://news.griffith.edu.au/2019/09/10/one-ocean-symposium-for-united-nations-treaty-negotiations/


Dr Fran Humphries

Michelle Maloney

The Right to Repair

The inability to repair our modern digitally enhanced consumer goods is increasingly and globally important as countries transition to Circular Economies. The inability of Australians to repair their smart goods or to access repair or service information is having a significant impact on not only the Australian economy, but also its environmental future.

This inability to conduct repair or access repair information has given rise to an international Right to Repair movement, that began in the United States in 2012 and has spread more recently to the European Union and Canada. Australia and New Zealand are also now beginning to examine what regulatory approaches are needed to facilitate a broad consumer right to repair. The international Right to Repair movement has a two pronged approach: empowering consumers with rights to repair their goods without going to an authorized agent or to choose to have their own third party repair their goods, and requiring manufacturers of smart goods, cars and equipment to make their diagnostic tools, manuals, and other repair-related resources available to any individual or business, not just their own dealerships and authorized agents.  The ability to repair goods, in place of disposing of them, provides an attractive alternative to the problem of overflowing, dangerous e-waste.

Law Future’s member, Professor Leanne Wiseman is currently examining how Intellectual Property law can facilitate better access to digital goods and services that are 'locked up' by digital technologies. As part of this research, Leanne is investigating how the Right to Repair movement could play a role in rebalancing the relationship between the manufacturers who use their IP to control new digital goods and services and their aftermarket and the rights of consumers to exercise their full property rights in the goods that they own. Leanne is working in collaboration with Dr Kanchana Kariyawasam, a Law Futures member from the Griffith Business School. On the 5th February, 2020, Leanne and Kanchana hosted a public seminar, Can we fix this it? A Right to Repair for Australia? was held at the Southbank Campus of Griffith University. The following day, on 6th February 2020, an International Academic workshop was held to discuss the legal and regulatory challenges facing the Right to Repair movement.

You can read more about the Right to Repair here:

US and EU Laws show Australia’s Right to Repair Moment is well overdue

Do Australian Farmers need a right to repair?

For further information about Professor Leanne Wiseman please click here.

Connect and collaborate

If you would like to work, study or collaborate with us, get in touch