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Sustainability has become a critical factor in the development of Australia’s mineral and energy resources as companies and regulators seek to balance the competing requirements of the environment, society and the economy. This subject aims to give a clear understanding of the meaning of sustainability and the principles that underpin sustainability law and policy in the context of mineral and energy resources. It will examine the sustainability objectives of mining and energy approvals and regulation in Australia, how natural resource companies are responding to them and the related governance issues.
Principal topics will include:
- The development of sustainability law and policy in Australia and its relationship to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
- The key principles of Section 3 A of the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) relating to ecologically sustainable development and its clones.
- Intergenerational equity and developing a methodology for assessing how resources regulatory regimes treat sustainability.
- Sustainability case law in Australia, particularly the judgements of the Land and Environment Court in New South Wales and judicial decisions on climate change.
- Sustainability in petroleum licensing regimes: a comparison of Norway, the United Kingdom and Australia.
- Sustainability in mining regulation: a comparison of coal mining in New South Wales and mining in Victoria and Western Australia.
- Sustainability issues with solar and wind power.
- Human rights and international best practice in resource development.
- Sustainability and directors’ duties and corporate governance.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject should be able to:
- Analyse and interpret the meaning of sustainability, the development of sustainability law and policy in Australia and the law and principles applicable to minerals and energy
- Explain and justify to specialist and non-specialist audiences why sustainability in resource development requires specialised regulatory and legal solutions and the theoretical propositions and methodologies that underpin those solutions
- Critically analyse relevant regulatory and legal solutions
- Identify issues and solve problems involving sustainability questions, taking into account social and economic policy
- Locate, synthesise and analyse material from primary and secondary sources to consider critically and discuss problems of resource development.
- Advanced understanding of the changing base of law and policy relating to the sustainable development of natural resources
- Well-developed problem-solving ability for complex problems involving different stakeholder groups
- Capacity to effectively communicate complex ideas orally and in writing to specialist and non-specialist groups.
Last updated: 5 September 2023