Put simply, environmental law is the legal field concerning the protection of health and the environment as well as the use of natural resources. This includes the rules and procedures concerning pollution of soil and water, conditions for industrial activities, exploitation of natural resources, protection of sensitive environments and biodiversity, and legal control of the handling with chemicals and wastes.

There is no sharp divide as to what “is” environmental law; hence legal issues such as animal welfare, food security and occupational safety are close to the topics of environmental law. As a discipline Environmental Law has only existed for some decades, even though legal rules and conflicts concerning natural resources have existed for a long time.

Today, various principles of environmental law have developed, but this field also embraces elements of private law, administrative law, penal law, procedural law, EC law and public international law. The research on environmental law at Stockholm University has been characterised by international, European, (EU), and comparative perspectives. Current research at the Department of Law concerns, inter alia, the possibilities for individuals and NGOs to take part in environmental decision-making, liability and insurance for environmental damage, responsibility of transnational corporations for environmental harm, the protection of global commons, and legal control of international trade in hazardous chemicals.