Environmental law aims to provide regulatory mechanisms to protect the environment, and this requires sufficient knowledge of the environmental effects of human activities, the functioning, services and carrying capacities of ecosystems, and the technical and societal options available to mitigate adverse effects and develop energy, food, urban and mobility systems towards environmental sustainability.

However, major environmental threats of the 21 century, such as climate change, biodiversity loss, and emerging pollutants, exceed scientific knowledge of their complex causes, consequences, and solutions. As clearly shown in the European Green Deal strategies, these environmental threats can only be averted by transformative policies that embrace the complexity in environmental and social terms and determine long-termed transition pathways.

Never before were the makers and subjects of regulation so eminently dependent on scientific expertise and confronted with uncertainties. The uptake of scientific knowledge and the management of uncertainties are thus among the current key challenges in the making, design and implementation of sustainable environmental laws.

This conference explores how environmental law is prepared or could be better equipped to deploy the best available knowledge and expertise and deal with knowledge gaps and uncertainties in the legislative, administrative, and judicial branches.

This includes procedural instruments like, most notably, environmental impact assessments (EIA) and participation schemes; specialised institutions like scientific councils and advisory panels, environmental courts, private normalisation and accredited experts; and substantial aspects as to how environmental laws refer to technical terms and standards, relies on expert judgement and allocates the burden of proof.

The conference aims to assess all prominent fields of environmental regulation and to involve practitioners and researchers from other relevant disciplines in order to facilitate interdisciplinary debate.

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