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The Sustainable Development Goals and International Law

May 9, 2023


Jonas Ebbesson and Ellen Hey (eds.)

Publication Year
September 2022


Cambridge University Press

  • Series: Cambridge Law Handbooks, Volume 1



In 2015, the United Nations established seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that aimed ‘to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all’ by 2030. The chapters within this collection address each of these SDGs, considering how they relate to one another and international law, and what institutions could aid their implementation. Development has been a contentious topic since the decolonization period after World War II, and issues surrounding sustainable development are necessarily impacted by the multifaceted relationship between the Global South and Global North. Confronting the context and challenge of sustainable development, this collection outlines how the international economic system problematizes the attainment of the SDGs. Introducing a novel, cosmopolitan approach, this book offers new ways of understanding sustainable development and suggests potential solutions so that we might finally achieve it.




Alessandra Arcuri , Daniel Bodansky, Hilmer Bosch, Stuart Bruce, Fons Coomans, Philippe Cullet , Stéphanie Dagron, Jonas Ebbesson, Duncan French, Carmen G. Gonzalez, Joyeeta Gupta, Ellen Hey, Louis J. Kotzé , Kameri-Mbote, Nkatha Kabira, Elisa Morgera , Andria Naudé Fourie , Tonia Novitz , Enrico Partiti, Anél du Plessis , Karen N. Scott , Dire Tladi , Jorge E. Viñuales, Pål Wrange



Introduction: The sustainable development goals, agenda 2030, and international law

Jonas Ebbesson and Ellen Hey

1. End poverty in all its forms everywhere Dire Tladi

2. End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture Carmen G. Gonzalez

3. Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages Stéphanie Dagron

4. Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all Fons Coomans

5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls Patricia Kameri-Mbote and Nkatha Kabira

6. Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all Joyeeta Gupta and Hilmer Bosch

7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all Stuart Bruce and Jorge E. Viñuales

8. Promote sustained, inclusive, and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment, and decent work for all Tonia Novitz

9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization, and foster innovation Andria Naudé Fourie

10. Reduce inequality within and among countries Philippe Cullet

11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable Anél du Plessis

12. Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns Alessandra Arcuri and Enrico Partiti

13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts Daniel Bodansky

14. Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development Karen N. Scott

15. Protect, restore, and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss Elisa Morgera

16. Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels Pål Wrange

17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development Duncan French and Louis J. Kotzé





About the author

Jonas Ebbesson

Professor of Environmental Law, former Dean of Faculty of Law (2012–17), and Director of Stockholm Environmental Law and Policy Centre, at Stockholm University. He was member of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee 2005–2021, and its Chair 2011–21. He is a member of the Swedish Academy of Letters, History and Antiquities.

Ellen Hey

Professor of Public International Law at Erasmus School of Law of Erasmus University Rotterdam, the Netherlands, Adjunct Professor at the Norwegian Center for the Law of the Sea (NCLOS) at UiT – The Arctic University of Norway and Advisor to the Centre for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP), Columbo University. She was a member of the Aarhus Convention Compliance Committee (2008–2014) and a legal advisor to the government of the Netherlands (1986–1990).

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Rule of Law for Nature – New Dimensions and Ideas in Environmental Law

Rule of Law for Nature – New Dimensions and Ideas in Environmental Law

'Human laws must be reformulated to keep human activities in harmony with the unchanging and universal laws of nature.' This 1987 statement by the World Commission on Environment and Development has never been more relevant and urgent than it is today. Despite the many legal responses to various environmental problems, more greenhouse gases than ever before are being released into the atmosphere, biological diversity is rapidly declining and fish stocks in the oceans are dwindling. This book challenges the doctrinal construction of environmental law and presents an innovative legal approach to ecological sustainability: a rule of law for nature which guides and transcends ordinary written laws and extends fundamental principles of respect, integrity and legal security to the non-human world.

Read the full text

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