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Special Issue "Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 November 2018).

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Timo Koivurova

Arctic Centre, University of Lapland, PB 122, Rovaniemi, FIN-96101, Finland
Website | E-Mail
Interests: environmental law; Indigenous law; law of the sea; arctic governance
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Volker Mauerhofer

Department of Ecotechnology and Sustainable Building Engineering, Mid Sweden University, SE-831 25 Östersund, Sweden
Website | E-Mail
Interests: environmental law and governance for sustainability; biodiversity law; degrowth law

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The goal of this Special Issue is to discuss principles, key concepts, methods and applications of “Environmental Law and Sustainability” and lessons learned. We will further map opportunities of, and challenges to, legal aspects in a sustainable development in various thematic and strategic subjects, thereby contributing to the development of these domains scientifically and practically.

Contributions from the followings areas are sought:

  • Empirical (qualitatively and/or quantitatively data backed) and theoretical contributions
  • Philosophical and historical analysis; case studies; conceptual developments and assessments; descriptions of newly developed methods and their practical application.
  • Deductive and inductive studies; thematically horizontal or sectorial papers; studies of policy mixes among environmental, social and/or economic instruments; de lege lata and/or de lege ferenda essays.
  • Local studies with a potential wider application; comparisons of nations or other spatial units; analysis of regional integration; multilevel interplay.
  • Studies of Common Law and/or Continental Law (public, private and/or criminal/penal law)
  • Contributions about soft law, binding and/or non-binding instruments, formal and customary institutions
  • The role of sustainability law for institutional change and government policy also towards future generations
  • Single (case) studies or comparisons related to strategies, plans, programs, conflict of interests and/or trade-offs among different values and interests. Studies related to any stakeholders.
  • Studies on substantial rights (such as human rights) and procedural rights (such as public participation (such as access to information, participation in procedures and access to justice)
  • Innovative local, national, regional and international legal principles/approaches towards more sustainability incl. degrowth law, green economy law, soft law and customary law
  • Legal institutions and inter-/intragenerational justice on the pathway towards a sustainable transitions
  • Legislative, administrative, judicial decision-making and enforcement by law in terms of priority setting, ignorance, uncertainty, risk, conflicts of interest and trade-offs; absolute and relative achievements by law
  • The role of law for property rights, new commons, the Post2015 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals
  • Gender, planetary boundaries and/or ecosystem services, footprint, sustainable production and consumption
  • Sustainable development elements of
    • efficiency, effectiveness and sufficiency
    • environmental, social and economic capital, capacity and carrying capacity, also with the background of population questions

Each proposed contribution shall, in particular, outline its relevant to sustainable development in connection to one of the areas pointed out above or with another particular area.

Prof. Dr. Timo Koivurova
Prof. Dr. Volker Mauerhofer
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • law
  • environmental law
  • governance
  • sustainable development
  • sustainability
  • conservation law

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Activities of Environmental Convention-Secretariats: Laws, Functions and Discretions
Sustainability 2019, 11(11), 3116; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11113116
Received: 20 March 2019 / Revised: 7 May 2019 / Accepted: 29 May 2019 / Published: 3 June 2019
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Abstract
Multilateral Environmental Agreements—MEAs—are indispensable legal frameworks for environmental sustainability and also define the operating rules of their implementation bodies (“Secretariats”). The contribution assesses in how far the norms defining Secretariats’ functions differ and also reflect on actual functions for three MEAs, namely (1) [...] Read more.
Multilateral Environmental Agreements—MEAs—are indispensable legal frameworks for environmental sustainability and also define the operating rules of their implementation bodies (“Secretariats”). The contribution assesses in how far the norms defining Secretariats’ functions differ and also reflect on actual functions for three MEAs, namely (1) the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora-CITES (1973), (2) the Convention on Biological Diversity—CBD (1992), and (3) the Convention on Migratory Species—CMS (1979). It does so by comparative legal interpretation of the main norms of these MEAs laying down the functions of its respective Secretariats as well as an in-depth review of academic literature about these functions. The results for these three conventions divide into nine functional areas and show an unexpectedly wide range of different functions laid down in the conventions as well as extensive variety in the discretion for many of these functional areas. Some potential explanations of these formal differences are provided. The paper further finds that actually executed functions may not be fully covered by the underlying legal norms but rather by “flexible” highest governing bodies of MEAs and concludes that occasionally an unusual legislative style was chosen, and shows potential solutions and future research directions. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
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Open AccessArticle
Multilevel Coordination and Cooperation during Implementing Supranational Environmental Legislation: A Case Study on Invasive Alien Species
Sustainability 2019, 11(6), 1531; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11061531
Received: 3 January 2019 / Revised: 1 March 2019 / Accepted: 8 March 2019 / Published: 13 March 2019
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Abstract
Coordination and cooperation are necessary topics to strengthen international environmental agreements that improve action against worldwide challenges towards sustainable development and environmental protection, such as invasive alien species (IAS). This study aims to assess to what extent national and transnational cooperation and coordination [...] Read more.
Coordination and cooperation are necessary topics to strengthen international environmental agreements that improve action against worldwide challenges towards sustainable development and environmental protection, such as invasive alien species (IAS). This study aims to assess to what extent national and transnational cooperation and coordination influences the implementation of a supranational regulation against IAS based on an example from the European Union (EU). Data is used from a broader study, including 47 responses to an online questionnaire and 22 interviews completed by experts from two countries (Austria and Romania), together with in depth literature. Additionally, the IAS-Regulation is analyzed from the perspective of cooperation and coordination. The terms “cooperation” and “coordination” were found within the text of the IAS-Regulation 11 and nine times respectively, whereas their context was transnational and national levels mainly, and transnational, respectively. It was further acknowledged from the majority of the answers from the survey respondents that the national coordination and cooperation is weaker than the transnational level due to the influence of the national competence distribution. Results from the interviews are separated into ‘transnational’ and ‘national’ cooperation and coordination. They show that the majority of the 47 responses indicate that the distribution of competence is one of the main influencing factors on the implementation. It is concluded that the current situation of cooperation and coordination in Austria and Romania renders it difficult for the European Commission to receive a realistic view about IAS and the implementation of the IAS Regulation in the two countries; hence, it is difficult to offer helpful support especially due to poor national cooperation. The current study can serve as a blueprint for further studies. Even in regional integration contexts beyond the EU, it can prove helpful to assess the impact of different kinds of competence distribution on the implementation of common norms. Thus, this research can path the way innovatively and serve as a comparative example for similar future studies. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
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Open AccessArticle
Sustainable Development through the Right to Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in China
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 900; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030900
Received: 20 November 2018 / Revised: 29 January 2019 / Accepted: 4 February 2019 / Published: 10 February 2019
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Abstract
Access to justice is an irreplaceable complementary right. Without enforcement, environmental law would be ‘toothless’ in practice. Recently, China has made some significant progress in protecting the relevant parties’ right to access to justice in environmental matters. However, there are still some problems [...] Read more.
Access to justice is an irreplaceable complementary right. Without enforcement, environmental law would be ‘toothless’ in practice. Recently, China has made some significant progress in protecting the relevant parties’ right to access to justice in environmental matters. However, there are still some problems and challenges in the protection of this right in theory and in practice. To effectively realize this right, it is necessary to analyze the present situations and problems of the right in China from a legal perspective. This is done by introducing and analyzing the laws, regulations, policies, and practice concerning the right to access to justice in environmental matters in China. Specifically, this paper discusses the present situations of this right from several aspects. Based thereon, a brief problems analysis will be made. Some possible suggestions on how to better protect the right in China will be proposed from the perspectives of engaging, effectiveness and efficiency. These suggestions include empowering various parties with more capacity and possibilities; establishing a legal aid system and special fund; improving the exemption system and attorney fee transfer system; establishing a pre-litigation examination mechanism; and stimulating various parties’ potential roles. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
Open AccessArticle
The Role of Law in Transformative Environmental Policies—A Case Study of “Timber in Buildings Construction in Germany”
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 842; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030842
Received: 29 November 2018 / Revised: 1 February 2019 / Accepted: 2 February 2019 / Published: 6 February 2019
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Abstract
Over the last decades, environmental law has significantly contributed to limiting the environmental impacts of our mode of living. Yet environmental problems still prevail and are strongly linked to our production and consumption systems. Therefore, the current challenges must be tackled with a [...] Read more.
Over the last decades, environmental law has significantly contributed to limiting the environmental impacts of our mode of living. Yet environmental problems still prevail and are strongly linked to our production and consumption systems. Therefore, the current challenges must be tackled with a systemic approach. The concept of transformative environmental policy identifies approaches for policymakers to interfere in socio-economic systems in order to give them a more sustainable structure. This article seeks to identify the contributions that law can make to a transformation towards sustainability. For illustrative purposes, I point out the concrete steps in a case study on increasing the use of timber in buildings construction in Germany. I argue that law plays a role in all three phases of a transformation/transition. The legal framework must enable innovations and experiments in the first transformation phase, come up with restricting regulations for old non-sustainable structures in the second phase, and in the third phase provide course stability for the new system. I conclude that the concept of transformative environmental policy helps to design adaptations of the legal framework in order to transform socio-economic and socio-technical systems towards more sustainability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
Open AccessArticle
Policy Hotspots for Sustainability: Changes in the EU Regulation of Sustainable Business and Finance
Sustainability 2019, 11(2), 499; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11020499
Received: 30 November 2018 / Revised: 30 December 2018 / Accepted: 15 January 2019 / Published: 18 January 2019
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Abstract
To ensure sustainable development, there is not only a need to re-think how the economic playing field is structured, but also the regulatory system that governs it. Business and finance law reforms will represent a crucial element of such a transition. However, little [...] Read more.
To ensure sustainable development, there is not only a need to re-think how the economic playing field is structured, but also the regulatory system that governs it. Business and finance law reforms will represent a crucial element of such a transition. However, little progress has been made to date. The European Union (EU) business and financial market law have been analysed systematically in relation to sustainability to a limited extent. This study aims to contribute to this gap through a reflexive governance analysis of corporate financialisation in the EU business and financial market law. I identify ‘policy hotspots’ with the potential to advance the EU’s commitment to sustainable development. I use a mixed-methods approach consisting of social network analysis and semi-structured interviews. This approach allows me to perform a structural analysis of the formal institutional processes, complemented by a qualitative analysis that unpacks the potential of the identified policy hotspots. I argue that the EU’s action has a path dependency created by two major policy approaches that have informed the EU business and financial market law. These approaches build on the shareholder maximisation norm and an action agenda on non-binding measures. This has contributed to internalising the corporate financialisation processes in EU policy-making and seems to limit the EU’s ability to create sustainable legislation. While these approaches may represent barriers, the findings show that the identified policy hotspots represent two tentative pathways of action for achieving sustainable business and finance in the EU: the Sustainable Finance initiative and the Single Market. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
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Open AccessArticle
The Evolution of Sustainable Development in Scotland—A Case Study of Community Right-to-Buy Law and Policy 2003–2018
Sustainability 2019, 11(1), 130; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11010130
Received: 21 November 2018 / Revised: 14 December 2018 / Accepted: 21 December 2018 / Published: 27 December 2018
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Abstract
Effective ownership, management and access to land are central for sustainable development and can impact significantly on the opportunities for local enterprise. In 1998, Scotland’s Land Reform Policy Group concluded that ‘Land reform is needed on the grounds of fairness and to secure [...] Read more.
Effective ownership, management and access to land are central for sustainable development and can impact significantly on the opportunities for local enterprise. In 1998, Scotland’s Land Reform Policy Group concluded that ‘Land reform is needed on the grounds of fairness and to secure the public good’ Consequently, Scotland has introduced various schemes that facilitate or compel the transfer of land from an existing landowner to a community body. Sustainable development is a primary objective of all these regimes making them exceptional both in UK and global terms and worthy of in depth examination. This article critically explores how the laws and policies relating to sustainable development within these community right-to-buy regimes have matured and evolved from their introduction in 2003 to the present. It reveals the beginning of a fourth era in sustainable development policy in Scotland which moves away from a single ‘one size fits all’ approach to one where both sustainable development itself and wider sustainable development equations are tailored to land-use in Scotland and to the needs of each of the different community right-to-buy regimes. These developments evidence a significant maturity in the implementation and delivery of sustainable development in Scotland. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
Open AccessArticle
The Role of Public Interest Litigation in the Achievement of Sustainable Waste Management in Ethiopia
Sustainability 2018, 10(12), 4735; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10124735
Received: 7 October 2018 / Revised: 3 December 2018 / Accepted: 10 December 2018 / Published: 12 December 2018
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Abstract
This research assessed the role of public interest litigation in the achievement of sustainable waste management in the Addis Ababa Administration (AAA) of Ethiopia. It employed a single country case-oriented comparative research design, and data triangulation was used to establish the validity of [...] Read more.
This research assessed the role of public interest litigation in the achievement of sustainable waste management in the Addis Ababa Administration (AAA) of Ethiopia. It employed a single country case-oriented comparative research design, and data triangulation was used to establish the validity of the findings. The research first shows Ethiopia’s commitment to sustainable waste management, implementing environmental tax and the command-and-control instruments of the polluter-pays principle and public interest litigation within the context of environmental justice. Secondly, it shows that public interest litigation is one of the innovative techniques in the struggle against waste mismanagement across all legal systems. Thirdly, it demonstrates the potential role of public interest litigation in Ethiopia in encouraging the federal and regional environmental protection and management organs to implement environmental tax and command-and-control instruments. Fourthly, it uncovers that public interest litigation is not fully compatible with the Civil Procedure Code of Ethiopia. Fifthly, it shows the failure of the judiciary system of Ethiopia to accommodate environmental courts and tribunals that flexibly and innovatively adopt public interest litigation. Sixthly, it reveals that, in Ethiopia, the scope of public interest standing is highly restrictive for Civil Society Organizations (CSO). Finally, it implies that the legal viability and administrative feasibility of environmental public interest litigation in Ethiopia is in its infancy, and its crystallization is partly contingent on the cautious review of the Civil Procedure Code and CSO laws and on greening the judiciary system. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
Open AccessArticle
(Un)Sustainable Development(s) in International Economic Law: A Quest for Sustainability
Sustainability 2018, 10(11), 4022; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10114022
Received: 21 October 2018 / Revised: 29 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 October 2018 / Published: 2 November 2018
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Abstract
This article aims to contribute to the ongoing debate on post-capitalist economy by exploring the contours of a sustainability-oriented model of economic governance. To this end, the article analyzes the issues of sustainable development in the three main strands of international economic law [...] Read more.
This article aims to contribute to the ongoing debate on post-capitalist economy by exploring the contours of a sustainability-oriented model of economic governance. To this end, the article analyzes the issues of sustainable development in the three main strands of international economic law (trade, investment, and finance) at national and transnational levels. The analysis reveals a policy interdependence between international economic law and sustainable development. The latter hence represents a specific regulatory construct that aims at compensating the losses of exhaustible resources with investments in technology and knowledge. This, however, merely justifies and legitimizes the over-exploitation of certain parts of the globe, including not only their natural resources, but also human and other capitals. To overcome these unsustainable models, the article proposes a paradigm shift away from the standard of sustainable development in international economic law, towards one of sustainability. The idea is to replace sustainable development with sustainable economy. Law can act as a trigger of such a shift through ensuring trust and cooperation between public institutions, private companies, civil society, local communities, and individual citizens. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
Open AccessArticle
The Utopia of the Harmonization of Legal Frameworks to Fight against Transnational Organized Environmental Crime
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3576; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103576
Received: 4 September 2018 / Revised: 5 October 2018 / Accepted: 6 October 2018 / Published: 8 October 2018
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Abstract
This paper aims to reflect on the challenges faced by the harmonization of legal frameworks as a strategy to globally address transnational organized environmental crime, taking into consideration the difficulties experienced at a regional level, in the EU. The focus will be specifically [...] Read more.
This paper aims to reflect on the challenges faced by the harmonization of legal frameworks as a strategy to globally address transnational organized environmental crime, taking into consideration the difficulties experienced at a regional level, in the EU. The focus will be specifically on the harmonization of sanctions, due to the impact that this issue has on the application of UNTOC (United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime). With this aim, the implementation of Directive 2008/99/EC on the protection of the environment through criminal law is analysed to check the extent to which the harmonization of sanctions was reached five years after the due date for the transposition of the Directive. This paper also highlights that, beyond political will and European criminal competences, harmonization is a matter of legal culture, which renders the challenge even more complex. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
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Open AccessArticle
The Simplification of Biological Diversity in International and EU Law
Sustainability 2018, 10(10), 3424; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10103424
Received: 26 July 2018 / Revised: 21 September 2018 / Accepted: 23 September 2018 / Published: 26 September 2018
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Abstract
Every system that manages or assesses biodiversity rests on a simplification of its complexity. The simplification of biodiversity is debatable and difficult; even, for example, regarding the elements on which the assessment and management should focus. Nevertheless, within law, there are assessment and [...] Read more.
Every system that manages or assesses biodiversity rests on a simplification of its complexity. The simplification of biodiversity is debatable and difficult; even, for example, regarding the elements on which the assessment and management should focus. Nevertheless, within law, there are assessment and management schemes that are based on a simplified understanding of the meaning of [the construct of] ‘biodiversity’. For example, the Ecosystem Approach, European Union (EU) Habitats Directive, and the EU Water Framework Directive try to assess the status of different biodiversity elements based on their different ‘biodiversity’ simplifications. As the conservation of biodiversity is a vital global question, it is important to include the right elements within the ‘biodiversity’ construct to achieve no net loss. Based on international and EU law, I conceptualize a consistent legal simplification of ‘biodiversity’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
Open AccessArticle
Towards Sustainable Waste Management through Cautious Design of Environmental Taxes: The Case of Ethiopia
Sustainability 2018, 10(9), 3088; https://doi.org/10.3390/su10093088
Received: 25 June 2018 / Revised: 3 August 2018 / Accepted: 9 August 2018 / Published: 30 August 2018
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (267 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This research examines the viability of the design of environmental taxes in the achievement of sustainable waste management in the Addis Ababa Administration (AAA) of Ethiopia. It has employed an empirical qualitative method. It first shows the mutual contribution of the achievement of [...] Read more.
This research examines the viability of the design of environmental taxes in the achievement of sustainable waste management in the Addis Ababa Administration (AAA) of Ethiopia. It has employed an empirical qualitative method. It first shows the mutual contribution of the achievement of waste management to the progress of sustainable sanitation and water resource management. Secondly, it displays the distributive and incentive roles of environmental taxes in the achievement of sustainable waste management. Thirdly, it indicates that a cautious design of the source, base, scope and rate of environmental taxes is a critical determinant for environmental taxes’ overall success in addressing the prevalent waste mismanagement in Ethiopia. Fourthly, it demonstrates that in the AAA: (1) The sources of solid waste collection, landfill, sewerage service and effluent charges are subject to the principle of legality; (2) the scope of solid waste collection, landfill, sewerage service and effluent charges is appropriate; (3) while the base of sewerage service and effluent charges is efficient, the base of solid waste and landfill charges is not at all efficient; and (4) while the rates of solid waste, landfill and sewerage service charges are slightly optimal, the rate of the effluent charge has not yet developed. Fifthly, it reveals that, having a somewhat viable design, solid waste, landfill and sewerage service charges are marginally reinforcing the aspiration of Ethiopia to achieve sustainable sanitation. Sixthly, it uncovers that because Ethiopia has not yet developed the rate of effluent charge, effluent charge is neither internalizing the cost of water resource degradation nor incentivizing sustainable water resource management. Finally, it implies that the aspiration of Ethiopia to achieve sustainable sanitation and water resource management by 2030 is contingent on the cautious design of its waste management taxes. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)

Review

Jump to: Research

Open AccessReview
Soil Pollution Management in China: A Brief Introduction
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 556; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030556
Received: 6 December 2018 / Revised: 15 January 2019 / Accepted: 17 January 2019 / Published: 22 January 2019
Cited by 2 | PDF Full-text (993 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Soil pollution has become a severe environmental issue in China over the past few decades due to rapid industrialization and urbanization. However, traditionally, few laws and regulations have focused on soil pollution in China. In response to this emerging threat, new policies, regulations, [...] Read more.
Soil pollution has become a severe environmental issue in China over the past few decades due to rapid industrialization and urbanization. However, traditionally, few laws and regulations have focused on soil pollution in China. In response to this emerging threat, new policies, regulations, and measures have been proposed and implemented in recent years. This paper summarizes the existing law, action plan, regulations, and risk control rules regarding soil pollution prevention in China. Moreover, it compares soil pollution management between China and other developed countries. China has now established a comprehensive soil management system based on risk-based control. Regulations have been formulated for agricultural land, contaminated land, and industrial and mining land. Separate risk control rules exist for agricultural land and development land. Agricultural land can be classified as priority protection, safe utilization, and strict management with respect to soil pollution levels and agricultural products. The risk control rules for development land set different standards for sensitive land and non-sensitive land. Comparisons with developed countries show that their experiences of risk-based control and the “polluter pays” principle have been adopted in China. Additional scientific research and public participation are recommended for future updates to these policies. This study provides a comprehensive introduction to the newly established soil management system in China. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Environmental Law for Sustainability 2018)
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