Climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, managing new economies, the sustainable use of oceans, water and natural resources and planning for sustainable cities are just some of the many challenges faced by human societies around the world on a day to day basis. With these issues, and more, having a real and pressing impact on today’s communities we need rigorous and innovative thinking to create environmentally sustainable futures. 

UNSW Law’s Global Environmental Law Cluster is an initiative dedicated to generating cutting-edge research that can be harassed to deliver real-world impact and solutions to global environmental problems. This initiative, through a team of pre-eminent national and international academics, is leading the way in developing local to global structures of governance and regulation that achieve sustainability across a range of areas including urban & water planning, ocean resources, energy and climate change. 

The Global Environmental Law Cluster provides a focal point for research and teaching on issues of international and domestic environmental law, policy and governance at UNSW.

The initiative contributes to the development of research in, and the teaching and dissemination of, environmental law through:

  • undertaking legal and multi-disciplinary national and international research projects in environmental law and policy, in collaboration with others at UNSW and elsewhere
  • providing high quality supervision for students wishing to undertake research in the field of environmental law
  • holding seminars, workshops and conferences to explore contemporary issues in the field of environmental law
  • contributing to policy debate on environmental issues of national and international importance through the preparation of submissions, policy papers and other publications
  • offering a comprehensive range of contemporary and innovative courses in the field of environmental law, including Environmental Law Clinic at the Land and Environment Court
  • encouraging students to develop their knowledge of environmental law through involvement in group projects, research and education


Environmental initiatives and law are part of the foundational ethos on which the UNSW Law school was founded  during Hal Wootten’s leadership. We strongly believe that our law school should debate the big issues, defend those who cannot defend themselves and relish the challenges along the way. This perfectly encapsulates the current climate around environmental issues and initiatives.

Environmental law has been part of the UNSW Law curriculum since 1982. Building on the work and leadership of Scientia Professor Rosemary Rayfuse over the last two decades, the last 6 years have seen UNSW Law grow its environmental law team with targeted hiring of international and national leaders in environmental law, including Professor Morgan, Professor Klein, Professor Holley, Associate Professor Thorpe, Janice Gray, Lauren Butterly and recent Scientia Fellow Ben Milligan. We now have a one of the largest and most experienced groups of environmental law scholars in Australia and the Asia-Pacific region. We are defined by our strengths in diverse environmental law fields and problems, including planning and urban governance (ranging from small scale, citizen-led interventions to institutional frameworks for decision-making in planning and development); legal organisation forms and sharing economy; international law and fisheries; property and resources; maritime security; water law; energy law; indigenous management and coasts; legal personhood and nature rights.

Our environmental legal team has a long history of solving environmental issues together and in partnership with government, business, NGOs and communities (see examples below). Our work is also connected to interdisciplinary colleagues where we combine expertise across UNSW, universities and continents, including collaborations with Lund University, the Environmental Humanities Group, Climate Change Research Centre, Centre for Energy and Environmental Markets, City Futures Research Centre, Centre for Crime, Law and Justice, Australian Human Rights Institute, PLuS Alliance and the Global Water Institute.

Meet the team

Current UNSW Law Members

Scientia Professor Rosemary Rayfuse


public international law; international environmental law; law of the sea; marine environmental law; geoengineering; fisheries; climate change.

Professor Bronwen Morgan

new economies; social activists and social enterprises; climate change policy in developing countries; urban water services.

Professor Natalie Klein

international dispute settlement; maritime security.

Professor Cameron Holley

environmental security and the Anthropocene; environmental regulation; water compliance and enforcement; renewable energy transitions.

Dr Janice Gray

water law; energy and unconventional gas; property law.

Associate Professor Amelia Thorpe

sustainable cities; local government and planning law; public participation; public space; DIY urbanism.

Lauren Butterly

native title; heritage law; coastal law; administrative law (government decisions relating to the environment); mining.

Associate Professor Lucas Lixinski

public international law; international cultural heritage law; international human rights law.

Associate Professor Cathy Sherry

food law; urban farming; strata and community title.

Dr Marc de Leeuw

rights for nature; law and biotech; biodiversity; earthlaw; living modified organisms/genetically modified organisms.

Dr Tariro Mutongwizo

environmental security; environmental policing; non-state governance.

Scientia Fellow Dr Ben Milligan

  • Law and sustainable development – in particular: national implementation of multilateral instruments by low and middle-income countries
  • Governance of natural assets – in particular review and design of policy options for: natural capital accounting; ecosystem services management; nature and biodiversity conservation; spatial and development planning.
  • Governance of oceans and coasts – in particular review and design of policy options for: energy infrastructure development; trans-boundary cooperation; low-carbon shipping; sustainable fisheries; marine and coastal protected areas; spatial and development planning; nature-based climate change mitigation and adaptation.