My research is on the links between financial and environmental performance, and the tools that can be used be used to attract – or drive – more investment into better performance. The legal aspects of these issues are the starting point for my work – whether they are agreed by investors (contracts) or imposed by governments (statutes, regulations, common law, treaties). Incorporating these legal tools into integrated frameworks for considering the biophysical, business and political aspects of land, water and energy issues as part of efforts to improve performance is where most of my work is focused these days.
Three major types of legal tools are being applied to attract or drive private investment into improved environmental performance:
- Enhancing the information going to investors, either through market or government-driven requirements (corporate reporting, product certification, etc.);
- Changing the market frameworks and incentives affecting investor decision-making, such as regulatory requirements and property rights; and
- Sharing investments with the public sector, in either passive (subsidies) or active (business partnerships) manners.
Working with collaborators around the world, the core of my research is exploring how these tools can be used, both in case studies – across investors, sectors and locations – and through application of lessons learned, including the following:
- Improving urban water services – collecting, analyzing and distilling lessons learned from efforts to use public-private partnerships to improve the delivery of urban environmental services in developing countries, including the design of an analytical framework for building partnerships in any sector or context (increasingly linking with U.S. initiatives)(major collaborators: UNDP; Water Engineering Development Centre (UK); universities in the Philippines, Ukraine, India and elsewhere; Yale URI/Urban Ecology Collaborative).
- Expanding markets for ecosystem services – understanding the scientific, business and policy aspects of efforts to expand the markets for watershed protection, carbon sequestration and biodiversity conservation services (major collaborators: Trust for Public Land, Land Trust Alliance, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, Center for Tropical Forest Science).
- Promoting investment in cleaner energy – researching the impact of international law on investment in renewable energy projects and investigating the potential for using new international legal regimes/activities to expand investment still further (major collaborators: Renewable Energy and International Law Project, Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Partnership, Climate Change Capital (UK), Baker & McKenzie).