Environmental History and Law

Since man arrived on earth he began to influence and alter his environment.
Urbanisation and industrial revolution probably had the most severe impacts on nature in history. In return, natural disasters such as droughts, earthquakes or volcanic eruptions affect human life.  

Environmental law includes treaties, regulations, directives that address these effects, pollution being one of the major aspects. Its beginnings date back to ancient Rome, principally to protect human health. Basic to modern environmental law is a set of mobilized principles (e.g. precaution, prevention, “polluter pays”) and accentuation at international level (for example the European Law concerning environment).

At ILEE, we focus on the perception of human impact on urban and rural areas between the 18th and the 20th century. Socio-historical aspects relate to the history of the local products (“produits du terroir”). Further emphasis is put on the pollution of rivers and the relationships between men and animals.  

Our geographic scope is Belgium and other European countries but also the South (Democratic Republic of the Congo, Philippines).

Photo credit: Frédéric Silvestre

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