sustainability

OKSPO

Coordination Center for Foreign Law Schools

Jagiellonian University in Kraków

sustainability

Who are we?

OKSPO | FACULTY OF LAW AND ADMINISTRATION | JAGIELLONIAN UNIVERSITY

The aim of OKSPO (Ośrodek Koordynacyjny Szkół Praw Obcych) is to internationalize university cooperation, research foreign legal systems and provide high quality didactics. This unique unit was founded in 2000 by Prof. Fryderyk Zoll and later governed by Prof. Krzysztof Wojtyczek (2010-2012) and Prof. Krzysztof Oplustil (2012-2018). Since 2018, OKSPO is led by Prof. Piotr Szwedo.

Faculty of Law and Administration was one of the first units of the Jagiellonian University in Kraków – it has played a major part in JU’s academic activities since its establishment in 1364. It is consistently praised for its top quality of research and didactics.

Founded in 1364, the Jagiellonian University is the oldest and most prestigious university in Poland, as well as one of the oldest universities in Europe. It remains the best university in Poland, with numerous achievements of both students and researchers.  Nearly 40 000 students, over 2 600 academics, more than 150 degree courses, and 16 faculties – the Jagiellonian University is a perfect place for interdisciplinary research.

Why law & sustainability?

THE GLACIERS ARE MELTING... BUT THERE IS MUCH MORE TO IT THAN THAT.

WHILE WE PERCEIVE LAW AS A REGULATORY TOOL AIMED AT TODAY’S CHALLENGES, IT SERVES AN INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT ROLE IN THE PROCESS OF PLANNING THE FUTURE.

This function is crucial in the context of globalisation, evolution of societies and rapid technological progress. Given that many of the threats of tomorrow will be novel and widespread, the lack of sufficient foresight has a massive impact on our society, influencing family life, employment, education, investments and many other areas of human activity, putting a strain on mental health and citizens’ trust in the State. Certainty and stability of law are indispensable in a precarious world, but the norms need to be responsive enough to accommodate changing needs and ensure an adequate balance of values. The abovementioned considerations are reflected in the notion of sustainability, which is visible in a number of concepts, most notably in the concept of sustainable development. These notions are not only keywords, but also indicators, guidelines or even steering and regulatory tools that seem to escape the traditional soft law – hard law dichotomy.

DIDACTICS

We coordinate numerous foreign law schools and programs, as well as courses, workshops, summer schools and lecture series. OKSPO has over 20 years of experience in effective education of law students, legal professionals, translators, and graduates of other disciplines.

COOPERATION

OKSPO is a hub for international cooperation, which extends well beyond our partner institutions. Invited lectures, research projects, conferences and other collaborative activities with participants from all around the world are the heart of our Center.

RESEARCH

High-quality research of modern interdependencies is closely linked to interdisciplinarity and internationalization. Exchange of facts, viewpoints and ideas has always been essential to OKSPO – we participate in various projects and publications.

Current project

INTERDISCIPLINARY RESEARCH ON THE RIGHTS OF NATURE

THE RESEARCH TOPIC

The Rights of Nature (RoN) concept is meant to challenge the anthropocentric character of law. Proponents argue that nature is not merely a resource or an aspect of our surroundings, but a value in itself – a being which should be treated as a subject of law. References to RoN have already been made in a number of legal acts, cases, and documents, despite it being still a highly disputable idea. Its implementation entails a significant redefinition of legal subjectivity, giving rise to additional dilemmas, such as the question of standing or capacity/ability to bear duties. This novel approach might be at odds with existing legal frameworks and principles, such as those related to protection of investment and more broadly: economic freedom.

In theory, operationalisation of RoN should result in a new legal toolset, better equipped to deal with related problems. Such a toolset could be an important driving force for sustainable development – a widely recognised objective and principle aimed at reconciliation of environmental protection and the socioeconomic progress. With that being said, there is doubt as to whether any useful tools can be created on the basis of RoN. The usefulness of this concept for the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals – targets enumerated in the UN 2030 Agenda – is tainted by a high number of trade-offs and the existence of other means for doing so.

The issue of emergent RoN is important; not only because RoN can challenge the foundations of legal systems, but also because we urgently need solutions to environmental problems. We cannot risk getting into further dead-ends, guided by failed legislative attempts, yet neither should we dismiss an idea merely because it seems difficult to adopt. The ongoing debate shows that we have not reached a satisfactory conclusion as to RoN, even though they are being promoted in an increasing number of contexts across various continents.

Although the state and sub-state levels of regulations are most often the subject of discussion, RoN are not contained to domestic legal systems; they can influence numerous issues of global concern, from climate change litigation to protection of areas beyond natural jurisdiction. An international and comparative law perspective is under-researched, but necessary for a thorough assessment of the concept.

Moreover, while RoN puts a spotlight on the protection of nature, the principle of sustainable development calls for balancing various goals – environmental, social, and economic. The potential impact of RoN on sustainable development is ambiguous, requiring further analysis.

 

THE AIM OF THE PROJECT

The subject of RoN can be described as a bundle of three types of problem: the first type is linked to the cultural and ethical roots of RoN; the second tackles the potential paradigm shifts stemming from the interplay of RoN and existing concepts; while the third type concerns the practicability of RoN, including the likelihood of its adoption and contribution to environmental protection. The aim of this project is to critically analyse these problems to determine whether the concept of RoN is an adequate, necessary, and proportional vehicle for sustainable development, capable of being successfully introduced into various legal systems.

The main research question corresponds to the title of the project. We want to establish whether the concept of RoN can and should be used as a means to achieving goals consistent with the principle of sustainable development. This question will be tentatively answered in the negative, and this answer will be assessed through the prism of international and comparative law. The proposed project will combine a rigorous analysis of the background to of RoN with a thorough assessment of the concept from an international and comparative law perspective – a novel take on this object of inquiry. The project’s aim is to provide a comprehensive critique of the concept of RoN, which will not only constitute a significant contribution to legal scholarship, but also serve as a useful resource for experts in other disciplines, especially those involved in policymaking. We intend to analyse the potential of RoN not only referring to sustainable development, but also drawing from a simulation of environmentally relevant cases.

The research builds upon the outcomes of the PHC Polonium project „Sustainability and Law. Domestic and international perspectives” (Durabilité et le droit. Perspectives internes et internationales”), financed by the Polish National Agency for Academic Exchange and Campus France. The project leaders are Piotr Szwedo (leader of the Polish team) and Pierre Serrand (leader of the French team).

Other projects

SELECTED PROJECTS LINKED TO OKSPO, YEARS 2018-2022

We believe in cooperation

OUR ACTIONS CAN, SHOULD AND ARE CONDUCTED IN HARMONY WITH VALUABLE FRAMEWORKS

UNA Europa

is a prestigious alliance of 8 European universities, including the Jagiellonian University; it links research, education, and cooperation with the socio-economic environment. Sustainability is one of the main focus areas of the alliance. Prof. Szwedo, Head of OKSPO, is a representative of the Jagiellonian University in UNA Europa Sustainability Steering Committee.

Excellence Initiative at the Jagiellonian University

The Excellence Initiative in the Jagiellonian University is a strategic program aimed at amelioration of research, didactics, and academic cooperation with the socio-economic environment. It is based on the principle of 4xI: interdisciplinarity, internationalization, integration and innovation. The actions are undertaken mainly by Priority Research Areas. One of them is Anthropocene, focused on the causes, paths and consequences of global environmental changes. Prof. Szwedo is a member of the executive team of PRA Anthropocene.

Our foreign partners

We co-organize foreign law programs and numerous other initiatives with the following universities and research facilities: Catholic University of America, University of Heidelberg, University of Mainz, University of Orléans, University of Vienna, University of Ivan Franko in Lviv, Mohyla Academy in Kiev, National Universsity of Economics in Tarnopol, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Kobe University, East China University of Political Sciences and Law, University of Granada, University of Alicante.

Let’s stay in touch

If you are active in the sustainability field, we would love to hear from you! We are always open to collaboration with researchers from various fields and disciplines, as well as representatives of the socio-economic environment.

Bracka 12, room 205/206
31-005 Kraków
+48 12 4220908

okspo.eu 

© OKSPO 2021