The Concept of Public Trusteeship in Domestic and International Environmental Law

The “public trust” doctrine or equivalent doctrines have been invoked in several national legal systems to assert community interests over natural resources such as navigable waters and the seashore, which must remain accessible for everybody. The idea of a “collective trusteeship” of states for the integrity of the global environment and common areas such as the oceans, atmosphere and outer space has also inspired scholars and activists who helped framing the evolution of international environmental law.Among the influential scholars are Edith Brown-Weiss, who framed the obligation to use global resources sustainably as a matter of intergenerational equity, suggesting that “[a]s members of the present generation, we hold the Earth in trust for future generations” and Peter H. Sand who traced the evolution of the trusteeship concept in environmental law.

Here is Professor Sand’s forthcoming review of the trusteeship concept in domestic public law and international environmental law. Peter Sand Murnau Lecture 2013


See also:

Catherine Redgwell, Intergenerational Trusts and Environmental Protection (1999).

Ken Coghill, Tim Smith, Charles Sampford (Eds.), Fiduciary Duty and the Atmospheric Trust (2012).

Louis J. Kotzé, Thilo Marauhn (Eds.), Transboundary Governance of Biodiversity (2014).

Joseph L. Sax, The Public Trust Doctrine in Natural Resource Law: Effective Judicial Intervention, 68 Mich. L. Rev. 471 (1969).

Jorge E. Viñuales (Ed.), The Rio Declaration on Environment and Development: A Commentary (2015).