How the third wave of global judicial (and social) activism is filling ecological governance gaps and challenging the liability-remedy paradigm.

Project Details


This project conceptualises the worldwide progressive transformation of human rights litigation into more ecocentric litigation and the emerging but important role of (activist) courts in addressing ecological governance gaps. In addition, it will inquire how this greening of social litigation challenges the legal concept of attribution of liability in transnational lawsuits and influences access to effective remedy for victims of transnational ecological harms. The main hypothesis is that ecocentric lawsuits mostly seek to nudge the choice architects of ecological governance, i.e. policymakers and global value chain (GVCs) coordinating firms, to implement effective actions for the sustainability of ecosystems while not necessarily seeking concrete remedies for victims. Although the effectiveness of this activism could be questioned by considering that only a minority of transnational ecological conflicts become lawsuits, ecocentric case law has nevertheless the ability to nudge ecologically responsible behaviour of policymakers and firms. The project will inquire how this instrumentalist use of the judiciary may hide the necessary debate on the quality of ecocentric case law as courts lack technical knowledge on ecological and economic issues and on the type of remedies actual or potential victims (e.g. future generations) can obtain from ecocentric judgments. The combination of systematic (quantitative and qualitative) empirical analysis of global data should lead to a high gain project that sheds light on the transformation of social claims, on the synergies among social and judicial activism and soft law production and implementation, on the institutional quality of courts to understand global ecological and economic conflicts, on the patterns of innovative ecocentric case law, on whether triggering courts contributes to filling ecological governance gaps, and on whether this has (or not) a waterfall effect on access to remedy for victims of ecological harm.

Funding Acknowledgement(s)

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under grant agreement No 949690
Effective start/end date1/01/2131/12/25


  • European Commission

Flemish discipline codes

  • Comparative law
  • Environmental law
  • Climate change


  • environmental and climate change
  • societal impact and policy
  • constitutions
  • human right
  • comparative law
  • humanitarian law
  • anti-discrimination law