Melbourne Centre for Law and the Environment (formerly the Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law) strives to advance cutting-edge research, education, and active community engagement on legal, regulatory and policy frameworks that confront pressing local and global environmental and natural resources issues, while supporting climate action and the rights and interests of Indigenous Peoples, affected communities, and the non-human world.
The Centre aims:
- to undertake these activities through an open, collaborative and mutually supportive community of Centre researchers using diverse approaches;
- to strengthen existing links and establish new links with other research groupings engaged in related activities at the University of Melbourne, locally and globally; and
- to encourage community members and professionals from universities, non-profit organisations, government, business and cultural institutions, locally and globally, to participate in the Centre’s activities.
History and Current Research Directions
The Centre for Resources, Energy and Environmental Law (CREEL) was established at Melbourne Law school in 1986. Until 1996 it was the Centre for Natural Resources Law, and the teaching program was primarily focused upon laws relating to mining, petroleum and water resources; the legal structure and financing of major resources projects; and some aspects of environmental regulation. In 1996 substantial changes were made to research directions to extend the program to cover contemporary issues of national and international importance.
In the 21st century, research themes have included production and distribution of energy – with a later strong emphasis on International climate change law and domestic energy transition; environmental impact of energy, resources and infrastructure projects; sustainable food systems and animal law, biodiversity protection, human rights - specifically Indigenous peoples’ rights over land and waters; water law and governance - with a groundwater specialty, offshore petroleum developments, environmental law and constitutionalism, and a growing body of research around ecological regulation, and environmental jurisprudence.
MCLE has recently collaborated in its research with a diversity of organisations. Selected representative groups include:
- The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP);
- The Murray-Darling Basin Authority; and Melbourne Water
- The National Native Title Council; and peak Indigenous Water and Environmental organisations in Australia
- The Section on Energy, Environment, Natural Resources and Infrastructure Law (SEERIL) of the International Bar Association
- The Australian Mining and Petroleum Law Association Limited (Formerly AMPLA, now Energy and Resources Law Association)
MCLE also collaborates with community environmental law organisations such as Environmental Justice Australia and the Environmental Defenders’ Office and MCLE is a member of the IUCN environmental law section. MCLE has research partners in leading environmental and energy law centres in Universities across the USA, Canada, Europe and the United Kingdom. It is building relationships with research centres in South Asia and South East Asia and in the Pacific region.