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Cambridge Centre for Environment, Energy and Natural Resource Governance

The sound stewardship of our world’s common heritage, especially our increasingly degraded natural resources, has become a matter of global, regional and transboundary concern. As scientific knowledge advances and the interdependence of natural systems is better understood, the challenges for international law are intensified by the need to provide more coherent, effective and cooperative regimes for sustainable management of natural resources of global importance.

Rising to these challenges, in November 2020, the International Law Association (ILA) adopted new guidelines on the Role of International Law in Sustainable Management of Natural Resources for Development (ILA Guidelines). Drafted through a nine-year intensive collaboration by leading international legal experts and specialists appointed by the ILA from nearly 40 countries, the ILA Guidelines highlight the myriad rules and standards which now define, guide and direct state practice, providing a crucial roadmap for the progressive development of international law on the sustainable management of natural resources for development. Centre Fellow and Advisor Professor Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger served as Rapporteur and Canadian expert, and Centre Fellow Dr Markus Gehring served as a German expert on the ILA Committee.

The ILA Guidelines illustrate the significant role that international law has to play in shaping the principles, regulatory frameworks, institutions, standards and incentives for sustainable natural resources management on multiple local, national, regional and global levels. It can function as a baseline for States and other actors involved in natural resources management, shaping operating environments in line with global policy priorities.

We welcome the adoption of the ILA Guidelines as a holistic and integrative tool which highlights the importance of the legal regime for the future protection and sustainable management of the world’s natural resources.