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National environmental legislation

In this step, Dr Maro Triantafyllou explores examples of environmental legislation at a national level.
© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0

Having looked at international legislation, you will now examine different ways of incorporating international environmental laws into domestic legislation and gain insights into examples of national legislation.

We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones.
(Jules Verne 1828 to 1905, French novelist, poet, and playwright)

Defining national environmental legislation

National environmental legislation encompasses a broad range of legal, administrative and governmental instruments that help facilitate the implementation of international environmental legislation. Legal instruments may include constitutions, laws, decrees, acts, regulations and other; administrative instruments may include guidelines, standards, rules and procedures; while other governmental instruments may include protocols, resolutions, actions and various intergovernmental agreements (WHO 2019).
Individual countries can give domestically effect to international law either by adopting the ‘dualist’ approach, which considers international and national laws as two separate systems and requires the incorporation of international law in national legislation, or the ‘monist’ approach, which considers international law to be dominant over domestic legislation and requires its automatic and immediate incorporation nationally (Garner 2004).

EU (European Union) legislation

For the purposes of this module, EU legislation is considered as domestic legislation as it applies only to EU member states.
EU Directives require from EU members to pass the relevant national legislation and give effect to the Directive’s terms, usually within a two-year time frame. Directives are used to help enforce common environmental rules, establish common policies and significantly affect sustainable development across the EU members. They set minimum EU environmental standards to be applied at a national level, but members are free to apply more stringent national measures. For example, the Urban Waste Water Directive [91/271/EC] sets out minimum standards for the treatment of water and sewerage, but member states can apply higher standards than those minimum requirements set out in the Directive.
Once adopted and passed into EU law, Directives can also have legal force even when they are not yet enacted in national legislation (European Law Monitor 2019).

Examples of national pollution control legislation

Table 4 includes examples of national pollution control laws from all over the world.
Table 4: Examples of national pollution control laws
This table can be downloaded and viewed in full in the downloads section at the foot of the page.

Examples of national resource conservation legislation

Table 5 includes examples of national resource conservation laws from all over the world.
Table 5: Examples of national resource conservation laws
This table can be downloaded and viewed in full in the downloads section at the foot of the page.

Your task

Following the classification of national pollution control laws in Table 4 and the national resource conservation laws in Table 5, give examples of national environmental laws that your country has introduced under each sub-category.
Are there any areas that your country hasn’t addressed yet? Why?
Share your findings with your classmates in the comments section below.


European Law Monitor (2019) ‘EU Legislation: What is an EU Directive?’ European Law Monitor [online]. available from [8 July 2019]

Garner, E .L. (2004) ‘International Treaties Governing Mineral Exploration. Environmental and Engineering Geology, Vol. III’. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) – Encyclopaedia of Life Support Systems (EOLSS) Paris: UNESCO

WHO (2019) ‘National Legislation’. World Health Organisation Europe [online]. available from: [8 July 2019]

© Coventry University. CC BY-NC 4.0
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