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Invitation: Book Project on Earth System Law and Task Force Meeting at 2018 Utrecht Conference

Invitation to a Book Project on Earth System Law and a Task Force Meeting at the Utrecht Conference on Earth System Governance on 8 November 2018

Earth System Law: Standing on the Precipice of the Anthropocene

We invite you to work with us on an edited volume on earth system law. The book will explore this entirely novel and emerging concept from multiple disciplines including law, science, and ethics. Earth system law challenges the premise that humans are separate from nature and recognizes instead that humanity is now a global geophysical force, a unique species with the ability to intentionally shape the Earth system – yet still only one among many. Building on the work of the earth system governance project, earth system law reflects the notion that the law is a social institution that plays an increasingly important, but sometimes questionable and often ineffective, role in addressing the pressing problems of earth system governance, from the local to the global. This book will lay out and interrogate the foundations for earth system law and its relationship to sustainable development in the context of the Earth’s interdependent socio-ecological systems, as we move forward into the Anthropocene.

The book is anticipated to have the following three-part structure with individual chapters guided by a preliminary set of questions:

1) The analytical dimensions of earth system law

  • What do we understand by earth system law?
  • How do conventional legal discourses translate into earth system law?
  • What theoretical, methodological and analytical frameworks inform earth system law?
  • What are the theoretical and practical links, if any, between the Anthropocene, earth system law and earth system governance both in a normative and an epistemic sense?


2) The normative dimensions of earth system law

  • How do we deal with the fundamentally static and anthropocentric nature of law and lawyers?
  • How can earth system law address intra and intergenerational and inter-species equity, including the pervasive hierarchies between species, geographical regions, and countries that law often itself has created and maintains?
  • How can earth system law ensure that resource use, investment, technology and governance institutions become sustainable?


3) The transformative dimensions of earth system law

  • What pathways should earth system law develop to ensure it makes a positive transformational contribution to earth system governance?
  • What contribution can earth system law make to help legal systems adapt to the new realities of the Anthropocene?


This book project will be an interdisciplinary undertaking, and we welcome contributors from all disciplinary backgrounds. If you are interested in joining the book project, please register via the conference registration form available here.

For more information about the Task Force on Earth System Law, click here. For general enquiries, contact Rakhyun E. Kim (

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