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Kees Bastmeijer

Visiting Professor of Environmental Law from Tilburg University, The Netherlands

Many people appreciate nature but why is it so hard to protect wild species and ecosystems effectively?

Professional biography
Research interests
Influence beyond the academy
Inspiring passions and concerns
Most significant publications
Hopes for the Visiting Professor Programme

Professional biography
Kees Bastmeijer is professor of nature conservation and water law at the Tilburg University (The Netherlands). His research relates to international, European, and domestic environmental law, with a special emphasis on the role of law in protecting nature. His latest publication is the edited volume ‘Wilderness Protection in Europe. The Role of International, European and National Law’ (Cambridge University Press, in press). Kees has a particular interest in the Polar Regions. As an advisor to the Dutch government, he has participated in the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings since 1992. Kees has lectured environmental law in Akureyri (Iceland), Ottawa (Canada) and Tilburg (The Netherlands) and is program director of the Outreaching Honors Program of the Tilburg University.

What are your main research interests?
A large part of my research focuses on the role of law in protecting nature. It facinates me that many people appreciate nature while at the same time the functioning of our society results in so many threats to nature. More than 150 years of nature protection law could not prevent that about 80% of Europe’s biodiversity is not in a favorable state of conservation. This stimulates me to relate my legal research to other research disciplines, for instance, knowledge on human behaviour, the functioning of different types of societies and philosophical concepts regarding human-nature relationships.

How does your research have influence beyond the academic world? Does this include any roles you have beyond the academy?
I don’t consider law as a goal in itself but as an instrument to solve societal problems, such as the loss of biodiversity and wilderness. Based on my academic work, I aim to inform and advise policy makers, companies and the general public, for instance through membership of advisory committees, contract research, parliament hearings and popular publications. I also provide advice to the Dutch government on legal policy developments with regard to the Polar Regions. I have been participating in the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Meetings since 1992. I very much appreciate this combination of research and advisory work as it provides the best chances for contributing to a more effective protection of nature in the benefit of humans and nature itself.

Is teaching still a significant part of your working life? What particular method or approach would you say characterises your teaching?
Yes, and I hope this will not change. In fact, for the longer term good education may be the most promising path towards a sustainable society. Through my teaching I hope to provide students a good understanding of environmental law, but my aim is to get beyond ‘knowledge transfer’: I hope to stimulate students to think about the functioning of our society, the role of law and possibly even the role they want to play in their future careers, certainly not by telling them what to do, but by discussing developments in society and by asking questions.

What specific passions or concerns particularly inspire you in your work?
See my answer to the question "Research interests".

Which of your publications would you regard as the most significant and why?
I think I would select my latest edited book on the role of international, European and domestic law in protecting wilderness in Europe. In the first part, the book discusses the international history of the wilderness concept and the ecological, social and economic values of wilderness in Europe. In the following parts it discusses the extent to which the remaining wilderness areas in Europe receive legal protection under international conventions, EU directives and domestic law. The book is the result of a great collaboration project of 30 experts in nature conservation law, including Filippo Valguarnera from the Gothenburg University, and will be published by Cambridge University Press (end 2015/beginning 2016).

What are you particularly hoping to achieve during your time as a Visiting Professor in Gothenburg?
I hope I may stimulate students to think about the role of law in establishing a sustainable society for people, in which there is also space and good conditions for healthy natural ecosystems. I also see great opportunities to collaborate in research projects with staff members of the University of Gothenburg. I am confident that I will learn a lot myself through my visiting professorship, but it is important to me that students and the University of Gothenburg will be pleased with my involvement and activities.


Kees Bastmeijer


Would you like to meet Kees and/or have an idea for future cooperation?

Send an email to his contact person at the School:
Filippo Valguarnera

Or visit his home university website!

Focus areas:

  • Biodiversity and wilderness
  • Polar Regions (Arctica and Antarctica)
  • International environmental law
  • Sustainability and law

The VPP Brochure

Page Manager: Karin Jansson|Last update: 3/17/2016

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