PUBLICATION Journal article

Untapped capacity for resilience in environmental law

International and national law have not stemmed the tide of rapidly accelerating environmental change. In response to this challenge, we highlight examples from the United States and the European Union of the untapped capacity of existing laws to enhance social-ecological resilience to these continual changes. The recommendations we advance regarding how to mine existing legal instruments to enhance resilience are agenda-setting, and they represent a far more feasible approach to addressing emerging environmental challenges than proposing politically untenable new laws or major amendments to existing laws. We show that governance can make substantial advances in addressing environmental change in the short term by exploiting those existing untapped capacities, and we offer principles and strategies to guide such initiatives.

Keywords: environmental governance, law, resilience, social-ecological systems

Garmestani, A.S., J.B. Ruhl, B.C. Chaffin, R.K. Craig, H.F.M.W. van Rijswick, D.G. Angeler, C. Folke L.H. Gunderson, D. Twidwell, and C.R. Allen. 2019. Untapped capacity for resilience in environmental law. PNAS 116 (40) 19899-19904.