Law in Environmental Decision-Making

Project and Seminar Material for Environmental Science

Law in Environmental Decision-Making

Chapter One


1.1 Background of the Study

Environmental issues are at the heart of some of the most complex and consequential decisions that society must face in pursuit of a more sustainable future (Edward Eglar 2019). They encompass the international, national, and local levels and engage all branches of government. Decision Making in Environmental Law, this brings together some of the leading experts in the field and provides a structured overview of the various dimensions of decision making from an environmental law perspective. This includes the use of treaties, common law tools, rulemaking, access to information, regulatory structures, market-based and trading mechanisms, monitoring and reporting, voluntary programs and private regulation, environmental impact analysis, public engagement and environmental justice, administrative and judicial review, and the role of environmental courts and tribunals. In simple terms, environmental decision making is taken to mean decision making that has an effect on our environment. If adopting a broad definition of environment, it could be said that nearly all decision making comes into this category. So why do we need to talk about environmental decision making at all rather than simply decision making? It is because there is increasing recognition that many of the decisions we make and actions we take, both individually and in groups, have an effect on our environment and yet economic and political considerations often dominate in a way that seems to exclude environmental considerations. By environmental in this context, I mean that which surrounds and affects us including our physical and biological life-support base alongside social, economic, cultural, political and institutional factors. Taking into consideration those decisions which have local dimensions which are related to worldwide environmental issues, and where individuals and groups have choices, they can make to maximise positive environmental outcomes, improve our environment and limit detrimental effects. Examples include our use of transport, making consumer decisions, planning new or improved developments and managing natural resources. Whilst accepting that there are widely divergent views about what environmental decision making implies, we believe that the main challenge seems to be not one of replacing economic, political and social considerations, which currently prevail in much decision making, with an environmental agenda but one of bringing these factors together in every decision-making process. A note of caution is needed however: singling out one area for special attention might on occasions have the effect of separation rather than integration. In order that we might more fully explore this integration of environment with the other factors prevalent in decision making, we perhaps need to begin by taking the position that we cannot afford to exclude environmental concerns if we are to meet basic human needs both now and in the future. This is based on an assumption that the rate at which we are using some of our natural resources (such as oil, water or land) and polluting air, soil, fresh waters and oceans is unsustainable. Hence, we will consider environmental decision making in the context of sustainable development and will now go on to explore what that means. This collection draws together a range of approaches to environmental legal issues, covering a broad spectrum from domestic to international law. The contributors investigate aspects of law’s influence in environmental decision-making and consider whether legal institutions and theory can respond adequately to the challenge of environmental change. It is a book which provides an example of the way forward – a positive step in the right direction for environmental law … a book that is wide-ranging in its scope but which at the same time offers some valuable discussion of the significant key issues which are raised in these assorted jurisdictions and varied legal areas … this book provides a valuable contribution to the progress towards a more mature approach to environmental law, as well as a collection that sign posts the way for other environmental lawyers.’ Fiona Donson, Law Quarterly Review, Oct 1999. It is based on an understanding that environmental decisions which are essentially political in nature and controversial cannot rest solely on the perception and knowledge of unelected experts. In this understanding public participation is not only a means to overcome the ‘democratic deficit’ in environmental decision-making but is also a device to incorporate value judgments into environmental decisions. Notwithstanding agreement on the desirability of society in environmental decision making, there are a plethora of ethical and legal issues relating to public participation which need to be addressed in a satisfactory manner so that public participation might become meaningful and effective. In reality, however, decision makers do not have perfect information upon which to base decisions or to predict the impact and consequences of such decisions. But decisions need to be made despite those uncertainties.(Lindley, 2006).The available data on the multiple factors, including human health risk, that shape environmental decisions rarely encompass all relevant considerations. For example, although the toxic effects of a test substance may be definitive and undisputed in laboratory animals, the potential for risk to humans caused by environmental exposure to the same substance may be uncertain and controversial. Exposure levels for certain chemicals may be measurable and reproducible for populations in some locations but available only as modeled estimates in others. Investigators may have data to show that a pollutant is present in the soil at certain locations but may not have data to determine whether residents are exposed to it and, more importantly, whether residents are exposed at potentially harmful levels. Sophisticated methods for quantifying uncertainty may be available for some data categories but untested and of uncertain utility for others. Gathering additional information would require time and resources. As a result, uncertainty is always present in data and analysis, and decision making is invariably based on a combination of well-understood and less-well-understood information.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

Environmental decision-making, it sounds complicated. It sounds like something that should be left to the experts. And environmental issues can be complicated. But environmental decision-making in a society shares some of the key processes that individuals use to make shared decisions on a daily basis. If we compare the societal decision-making process to that of a family, the issue becomes a much more manageable concept.More often, however, solutions are not this simple. What may at first seem like a straightforward decision can be affected by variables that complicate the matter considerably. Imagine the same basic problem, this time with added factors. In this family, one parent works second shift and the other parent takes frequent business trips. The 16-year-old boy has the responsibility of watching a 10-year-old sibling most evenings, and a part-time job would require that he work in the evenings. In this instance, there are more people involved in the problem—more stakeholders. The solution in this case is less obvious and will need to respond to the concerns of all stakeholders.Tackling the decision problems concerning environmental and natural resource management or an action that will have an effect on the environment (referred to in the following text as environmental decision making) is becoming increasingly complex due to numerous, conflicting, often spatially related objectives, and the variety of stakeholders involved. Especially in the spatial planning disciplines such as land use planning, biodiversity preservation, water resource management, urban development, and forestry and landscape planning, the development objectives and planning methods seem to have become ever more interwoven and conflicting. Environmental decision problems are essentially conflict analyses (Lahdelma et al., 2000) characterised by socio-political, environmental, and economic value judgements. A large number of alternatives available to solve an environmental problem are described by a great quantity of information and often involve spatial and temporal variability.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of this study is to examine the law in environmental decision making. The specific objectives include;

  1. To evaluate the impact of environmental decision making by Law
  2. To examine the basic Laws in environmental decision making and how it affects the precautionary principles of Law
  3. To find out lack of environmental awareness law determine the environmental decision making.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. What is the impact of environmental decision making by Law?
  2. Is there basic Laws in environmental decision making and how does affects the precautionary principles of Law?
  3. Can lack of environmental awareness law determine the environmental decision making?

1.5 Research Hypotheses

Hypothesis I
  • H0: There is no significant impact of environmental decision making by law
  • Hi: There is a significant impact of environmental decision making by law
Hypothesis II
  • H0: There is no relationship between basic laws in environmental decision making and precautionary principles of law
  • Hi: There is relationship between basic laws in environmental decision making and precautionary principles of law

1.6 Significance of the Study

This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.

1.7 Scope of the Study

This study is on the law in environmental decision. The research will focus on the Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) is located in Abuja, Nigeria and is part of the Government Industry. Federal Environmental Protection Agency (FEPA) has 400 total employees across all of its locations, hence only a few numbers will be chosen at random for interview.

1.8 Limitations of the study

The demanding schedule of respondents at work made it very difficult getting the respondents to participate in the survey. As a result, retrieving copies of questionnaire in timely fashion was very challenging. Also, the researcher is a student and therefore has limited time as well as resources in covering extensive literature available in conducting this research. Information provided by the researcher may not hold true for all businesses or organizations but is restricted to the selected organization used as a study in this research especially in the locality where this study is being conducted.

Financial Constraint:

Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).

Time Constraint:

The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.

Finally, the researcher is restricted only to the evidence provided by the participants in the research and therefore cannot determine the reliability and accuracy of the information provided.

1.9 Definition of Terms

Environmental Law:

Refers to the protection of our natural resources and the regulation of businesses that impact them. This includes resources considered valuable to humans, such as water and minerals, as well as endangered species and other aspects of the natural world.

Environmental Decision Making:

Environmental decision making is taken to mean decision making that has an effect on our environment, however it is defined. Examples include our use of transport, making consumer decisions, planning new or improved developments and managing natural resources.

Chapter Five

Summary, Conclusion and Recommendations

5.1 Summary of Findings

The purpose of this study was to examine the law in environmental decision. The hypotheses were meant to know if there is a significant impact of environmental decision making by Law. Also, there is a relationship between there is relationship between basic Laws in environmental decision making and precautionary principles of Law. The analyses of collected data revealed on the law in environmental decision, the objectives of the study were to;

  1. To evaluate the impact of environmental decision making by Law
  2. To examine the basic Laws in environmental decision making and how it affects the precautionary principles of Law
  3. To find out lack of environmental awareness law determine the environmental decision making.

Findings from the study revealed the null hypotheses and the alternative hypotheses, that majority of the respondents were of the opinion that

  1. There is a significant impact of environmental decision making by Law, thereby the null hypothesis Ho is rejected.
  2. There is relationship between basic Laws in environmental decision making and precautionary principles of Law, thereby the null hypothesis Ho is rejected.

5.2 Conclusion and Recommendation

The decision making under different environment and areas is very crucial. Sometimes in areas like Research and Development, plant and equipment or new building design may required complex and detailed decision tables and trees along with complex environment. Problems in inventory control, maintenances, scheduling and production control are just few areas where the environments are most like to occur. ‘Operations capabilities are developed partly through the strategic decisions taken by the operations’ (Slack, 2007). Therefore, these methods must be followed to optimize the selection process and better alternative. All the situations are very much different to each other and must be considered only if the information present in under respective criteria.

Law in Environmental Decision-Making

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Law in Environmental Decision-Making


This research material “Law in Environmental Decision-Making” is for research purposes and should be used as a guide in developing your research project / seminar work. For no reason should you copy word for word (verbatim) as will not be liable for any who copied the material.

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How to defend your research work

This is a general guide on how to defend your research work:

1. Prepare For Questions:

If you are preparing for questions that may be asked during your defense, then your answers will flow smoothly and effectively. This will prove your knowledge on the subject e.g “Law in Environmental Decision-Making“, and strengthening your argument. Ask friends and family, read your work for them to listen to your presentation, and write down questions. You may be lucky the panel will ask you those you have already prepared on.

2. Strong Summary:

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Not knowing your topic “Law in Environmental Decision-Making” inside out will cause you to struggle and ultimately fail with your defense. You need to know the subject from every angle to ensure you are fully prepared for any question that may come your way.

4. Conclusion:

Reinforce your findings to conclude your defense. The finale of your presentation should focus on proving the work that has been done. You may need to recap on what has changed and remained unchanged, if is necessary.

5 . Listen:

Before you get defensive or recite a particular answer, make sure you truly understand the question being asked. Being a good listener is an important quality, because providing an inaccurate or off-topic answer will also weaken the validity of your paper.

Frequently Asked Questions

When making environmental decisions, we should consider?

When making environmental decisions, we should consider the financial costs, the positive consequences, and the negative consequences.

How do we make decisions about the environment?

Every day we make choices. We decide simple things like what to wear, what to eat, or how much time to allow for homework. Some decisions, however, require us to think critically and consider the potential consequences of our actions. When it comes to making environmental decisions there is often no clear right or wrong.

Why do environmental planners need to understand the human decision-making process?

Environmental planners need to understand the human decision-making process to best manage the relationship between humans and the environment. Environmental decision making can be defined as the process of evaluating the ways humans go about making choices that impact the natural environment.

How many types of decision making environment are there?

There are 3 types of decision making environment that we can classify. There are: Decision Making in Certain Conditions Decision Making in Uncertain Conditions Decision making under a certain conditions means that the person who makes the decision have all the complete and necessary information for him to make the decision.

Why do we need to make decisions?

Some decisions are made to solve certain problem where some decisions are made for better changes. Making a decision is not an easy task, a wrong decision will impact you badly while making a good decision will benefits and helps you. 

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