Research Areas


Research Areas


Research activity of MEPIELAN is broadly focused on two interrelated areas.

First, developing an integrated, interdisciplinary and process approach to international and European environmental law and sustainability governance, with emphasis on the marine and coastal environment of the Mediterranean Sea Region.

Second, advancing an innovative and interdisciplinary approach to international environmental negotiation as a structured process of relational governance generating international common interest between and among international participants and in relation to the evolving international environmental order.

In doing so, MEPIELAN Centre aspires to promote innovative approaches and concepts on specific environmental law and policy issues, thus contributing to the increase of knowledge and its collective gaining. It is geared to serve forward thinking and a research culture that is critical as well as capable of examining every aspect of an environmental problem in pursuance of serving international common interest.

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1. International Environmental Negotiation

MEPIELAN Centre works on the promotion of an innovative, interdisciplinary and inter-cultural approach to international environmental negotiation understood as a structured process of relational governance generating international common interest. International environmental negotiation is explored and explained as a patterned process of three phases (Prenegotiation, Constitutive Negotiation and Renegotiation) that is relational, context-dependent, textual and authoritatively inter-subjective. It is conceived as a process of multilateral governance preparing (through the establishment and operation of declarative instruments), constituting (through the construction and implementation of treaty instruments) and revising (through the renegotiation of the established treaty instrument by amending or replacing it) an environmental treaty regime serving international common interest. At the same time, it is pertinent that all relevant stakeholders are effectively involved in all stages of the negotiating process in a parallel dialogue process on specific issues, by the broader introduction and organization of a “talanoa-type dialogue” that involves the sharing of ideas, skills and experience through storytelling – a narrative approach to issues.

This research area is essentially defined and guided by two books:

  • Raftopoulos, E., International Negotiation: A Process of Relational Governance for International Common Interest, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 2019
  • Contributions to International Environmental Negotiation in the Mediterranean Context (E. Raftopoulos – M. L. McConnell, eds.), MEPIELAN Studies in International Environmental Law and Negotiation – 2, Nomiki Bibliothiki- Bruylant Publishers, Athens, 2014

Research outputs:

  • Kailis, A., “The influential role of consensual knowledge in international environmental agreements: negotiating the implementing measures of the Mediterranean Land-Based Sources Protocol (1980)”, International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, Vol.17, No.2, April 2017, 295-311

2. Environmental Law, Governance & Public Trust Approach

Exploring the effective application of law and governance canvass of the environmental treaty regimes, the development of a trusteeship approach, and especially of the innovative, sustainability-related legal concept of public trust approach, provides an important area for improving implementation and compliance with environmental obligations and treaty regimes, at regional, national and local level. Under the Public Trust Approach (PTA), Governments are vested with a “fiduciary” legal obligation to hold and govern natural resources in trust for its people, protecting and preserving the environment and resources as a unit in a sustainable manner, for the benefit present and future generations. The contemporary approach to the public trusteeship is well established in a number of domestic orders and widely internationalized, in an expressed or implied form, in many others. However, it is not systematically explored in international environmental law and governance. Environmental treaty regimes still resort to static traditional legal concepts, which are inadequate to address the sustainability dimension of the obligations of States and give concrete legal substance to the overarching ecosystem-based approach. The need to research for an effective sustainability law and governance is more than clear and requires fostering a legal transition allowing the legal engagement of stakeholders in environmental treaty regimes as public trustees.

This research area is essentially defined by the following works:

  • Raftopoulos, E.,“Conventional Environmental Governance in the Mediterranean and its Evolving Institutional and Fiduciary Aspects in a Pragmatic Perspective”, OCEAN YEARBOOK, Vol 30, 2016, pp. 129-173.
  • Raftopoulos, E., “Theorizing about Conventional Environmental Sea-Regimes as International Trusts: The Case of the Barcelona Convention System”, In: Contemporary Developments in International Law – Essays in Honour of Budislav Vukas (Ed. by Rüdiger Wolfrum, Maja Seršić, Trpimir M. Šošić), Brill-Nijhoff (Leiden, Boston), 2015, Part 2-Law of the Sea, pp. 263-290.
  • Raftopoulos, E., “Dancing with the Transposition of the Public Trust Approach in the Realm of Conventional Environmental Governance”, MEPIELAN E-Bulletin, Saturday, 28 November 2014.

It is further pursued in

MEPIELAN Concept Note to put in motion the MSSD Flagship initiative 6.3.5 “Develop capacity building programmes on issues related to implementation and compliance with environmental obligations and agreements”, 18th MCSD Meeting, Budva-Montenegro, 2019

3. The Barcelona Convention System in the Mediterranean Region

MEPIELAN Centre addresses a number of research topics which are of direct interest to the Barcelona Convention system and contributes to the development of various aspects of international environmental law and governance. These include:

  1. The development of a stewardship-related and participatory implementation of the Precautionary Principle which may play a central role in the interpretation and application of the Barcelona Convention system. Research, here, is closely associated with the application of prior environmental impact assessments through the EIA and SEA procedures, including transboundary impacts, which will enable the decision-makers to consider all relevant factors and facilitate the effective engagement of non-state actors in the decision-making process, thus making them more sustainable.
  2. The promotion of sustainability governance though “working with interlinkages” and explore the relational coherence between the Barcelona Convention system and relevant global and regional environmental treaty regimes by addressing their inter-connections (institutional and thematic interlinkages), with a view to improve effectiveness (implementation and compliance) and promote the relational understanding and advancement of the polycentric environmental order as a whole. Special focus is laid on its inter-relationship with the Aarhus Convention referring to the law and governance dimension in the Mediterranean.
  3. The development of a relational approach to the evolving compliance control of the Barcelona Convention system that is inextricably interwoven with the continuous function and development of its governance process, the determination of the nature of the nexus between compliance control and obligation of the Contracting Parties and its contextuality. Its comparative improvement through the exploration of compliance in other relevant environmental treaty regimes is within the purview of MEPIELAN’s research.

This research area is essentially defined by the following works:

  • Raftopoulos, E., “Compliance Procedure: Barcelona Convention for the Protection of the Mediterranean Sea” In Hélène Ruiz Fabri (ed), Max Planck Encyclopedia of International Procedural Law (Oxford University Press 2019) https://opil.ouplaw.com/home/mpil
  • MEPIELAN Concept Note to put in motion the MSSD Flagship initiative 6.3.5 “Develop capacity building programmes on issues related to implementation and compliance with environmental obligations and agreements”, 18th MCSD Meeting, Budva-Montenegro, 2019
  • COMPSUD – MIO-ECSDE – MEPIELAN Concept Note on launching the MSSD Flagship initiative “Encourage the accession to and implementation of the Aarhus Convention on Public Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention)”, 18th MCSD Meeting, Budva-Montenegro, 2019
  • Karageorgou V.”The Right of Access to Justice in Environmental Matters: Recent Developments” In International and Regional Level and the Repercussions at National Level (J. May – E. Daly eds), Encyclopedia of Environmental Law, Volume on Human Rights and the Environment, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2019, pp. 155-168.

4. Climate Change & Energy Policy

Research initiatives on different aspects of climate change and energy policy are pursued by MEPIELAN Centre agendas regarding:

  1. The regulatory regime and sustainability governance of offshore activities and pipelines in the Mediterranean
  2. Regulatory issues on Clean Technology Innovation & Renewable Energy in the Mediterranean
  3. Green and Blue Transition towards Blue and Green economies in the Mediterranean, sharing policy recommendations
  4. Water and Waste Management and its implications for policy-making under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD)
  5. Mediterranean MPAs & Climate Change: Ecosystems Management towards successful regional cooperation, monitoring, and adaptation.

Representative research outputs:

  • Doelle M. and  Seck S., “Loss & Damage from Climate Change: A Maturing Concept in Climate Law?” (2019) Climate Policy 1752. DOI: 10.1080/14693062.2019.1630353
  • Juste-Ruiz, J., ”Ocean Options for Climate Change Mitigation: Disposal of Greenhouse Gases at Sea under the 1996 London Protocol”, MEPIELAN E-Bulletin, Tuesday, 27 December 2016
  • Doelle, M., “The Paris Climate Agreement: A Historic Breakthrough In Spite of Shortcomings”, MEPIELAN E-Bulletin, Monday, 26 December 2016
  • Gavouneli, M. “Offshore Installations: A Compehensive Regime?”, MEPIELAN E-Bulletin, Thursday, 04 April 2013
  • Louka, E., “The Standards for the Safety and Security of Nuclear Materials”, MEPIELAN E-Bulletin, Sunday, 11 November 2012
  • Raftopoulos, E.,“Sustainable Governance of Offshore Oil and Gas Development in the Mediterranean: Revitalizing the Dormant Mediterranean Offshore Protocol”, MEPIELAN E-Bulletin, Thursday, 19 August 2010