Recent Publications and Speeches


Paris Agreement, unambitious climate protection, and human rights

Missing German and EU climate targets is not embarrassing - it is contrary to international and human rights. Even the unambitious targets themselves are illegal; all the more so their misconduct. More on this in our new legal opinion on the Paris Agreement here.

Sustainable Land Use, Soil Protection and Phosphorus Management from a Cross-National Perspective

The scarcity of phosphorus (P) is a global concern that is not restricted to western industrialized nations. Based on several third-party funded projects, the industrialized nation of Germany, the emerging economy of Costa Rica, and the developing country of Nicaragua are examined in our new article in SUSTAINABILITY with regard to their legislation in the field of environmental protection and agriculture, in particular with regard to soil protection and fertilizer law. It becomes clear that soil protection in all three countries has not yet been adequately standardised in law and at the same time the efficient use of organic or recycled P fertilizers instead of (finite) mineral P fertilizers is inadequately regulated. here.

Felix Ekardt on "Growth - A Hard Habit to Break

A contribution in the Global Compact International Yearbook deals with fundamental issues of the sustainability debate: the limits to green growth and technological innovations, the preconditions of societal transformation towards sustainability, the complexity of human motivation, the underrated ambitiousness of the long-term goal in the Paris Climate Agreement. See, among other papers, here.

Phosphorus, Scarcity of Natural Resources, and the Law

During the last years, the Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy has done a lot of research on questions of phosphorus and scarcity of natural resources in general, as well as on land-use and climate change - from a transdisciplinary point of view. See, among other papers, Economic Instruments for P, N, Climate, Biodiv.

Universalism, Discourse Ethics, and Objectivity of Norms

The Research Unit Sustainability and Climate Policy has done a lot of research on the normative grounds of sustainability - respectively on the theoretical basis of both ethics and law. The most informative is the big German volume "Theorie der Nachhaltigkeit", but there is also a number of English papers. See, among other papers, here.

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Theory of Sustainability

Sustainability describes a form of economy and society that is lasting and can be lived on a global scale. The society-changing potential of the claim: ‘More justice between generations, more global justice – at the same time’ faces the peril of getting out sight. Sustainability is just not the trivial general claim to take social, economic and environmental policy serious independent of any relationship in time and space and to strike a sound balance between these aspects. And sustainability in the sense of the Rio Conference 1992 does not mean a ‘Three Column Conception’ at least not in a separating or additive sense. From the stance of policy-making and social sciences (e. g. law, political sciences, social sciences, economics, theology, psychology, etc.) diverse working fields and problems are affected, namely

  1. a clear definition of the concept ‘sustainability’ (level of definition);
  2. the – partly only scientific – descriptive analysis of how sustainable societies currently are if measured against this yardstick and which developments take place;
  3. the likewise descriptive question which external hindrances and motivations have so far obstructed the enforcement of sustainability; (level of causes)
  4. the normative question why sustainability be attractive and what, based on that assessment, its exact content is; (level of necessity)
  5. how much sustainability is required from a legal or moral point of view if it is balanced against competing interests, e. g. short-term economic growth, including the question which institutions have to resolve this issue and which margin of discretion they should enjoy in doing so; (level of balancing)
  6. which means can be employed to effectively attain the chosen goals, including possible obstructions, actors, strategies, etc. (level of enforcement)

In 2016, the third edition of “Theory on sustainability” (German: „Theorie der Nachhaltigkeit: Rechtliche, ethische und politische Zugänge - am Beispiel von Klimawandel, Ressourcenknappheit und Welthandel“) by Felix Ekardt will be published. The habilitation monography offers a broad approach on the basics of justice and sustainability, theory of human rights, on origins of lacking sustainability and effective climate and resource policy.

Downloadable texts: