The 'Ecosystem Approach' in International Environmental Law: Genealogy and Biopolitics, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The 'Ecosystem Approach' in International Environmental Law

Genealogy and Biopolitics, 1st Edition

By Vito De Lucia


301 pages

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Hardback: 9781138557260
pub: 2019-04-16
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The ecosystem approach, broadly understood as a legal and governance strategy for integrated environmental and biodiversity management, has been adopted within a wide variety of international environmental legal regimes and provides a narrative, a policy approach and in some cases legally binding obligations for States to implement what has been called a ‘new paradigm’ of environmental management. In this last respect, the ecosystem approach is also often considered to offer an opportunity to move beyond the outdated anthropocentric framework underpinning much of international environmental law, thus helping re-think law in the Anthropocene.

Against this background, this book addresses the question of whether the ecosystem approach represents a paradigm shift in international environmental law and governance, or whether it is in conceptual and operative continuity with legal modernity. This central question is explored through a combined genealogical and biopolitical framework, which reveals how the ecosystem approach is the result of multiple contingencies and contestations, and of the interplay of divergent and sometimes irreconcilable ideological projects. The ecosystem approach, this books shows, does not have a univocal identity, and must be understood as both signalling the potential for a decisive shift in the philosophical orientation of law and the operationalisation of a biopolitical framework of control that is in continuity with, and even intensifies, the eco-destructive tendencies of legal modernity. It is, however, in revealing this disjunction that the book opens up the possibility of moving beyond the already tired assessment of environmental law through the binary of anthropocentrism and ecocentrism.

Table of Contents



Part I: Setting the Stage

1. Setting the Stage

Part II: A Genealogical Reading of the Ecosystem Approach

2. Genealogy as a Legal Method

3. Locating the ‘Ecosystem Approach’

4. The Multiplicity of the ‘Ecosystem Approach’: Histories, Concepts, Names

5. Underneath the ‘Ecosystem Approach’: Ecology as a Framework of Ambiguity

6. The ‘Ecosystem Approach’ between Competing Narratives

Part III: A Biopolitical Reading of the ‘Ecosystem Approach’

7. Beyond Anthropocentrism and Ecocentrism

8. A Biopolitical Framework

9. A Biopolitical Critique of the ‘Ecosystem Approach’: Biodiversity Conservation

10. Inside and against Biopolitics: Towards a Productive Reading of the ‘Ecosystem Approach’?

11. Conclusions



About the Author

Vito De Lucia is a PostDoc Fellow at the K. G. Jebsen Centre for the Law of the Sea, Faculty of Law, UiT The Arctic University of Norway.

About the Series

Law, Justice and Ecology

In an age of climate change, scarcity of resources, and the deployment of new technologies that put into question the very idea of the 'natural', this book series offers a cross-disciplinary, novel engagement with the connections between law and ecology. The fundamental challenge taken up by the series concerns the pressing need to interrogate and to re-imagine prevailing conceptions of legal responsibility, legal community and legal subjectivity, by embracing the wider recognition that human existence is materially embedded in living systems and shared with multiple networks of non-humans.

Encouraging cross-disciplinary engagement and reflection upon relevant empirical, policy and theoretical issues, the series pursues a thoroughgoing, radical and timely exploration of the multiple relationships between law, justice and ecology.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
LAW / General
LAW / Environmental
LAW / International
LAW / Legal History
NATURE / Ecology