Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Sustainable Development Law and Policy

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Centre for Environmental Education and Research

DESCRIPTION The study-unit will delve into various aspects of Maltese, EU and International Law that relate to sustainable development policy. This would involve Environmental and Development Planning law, Heritage law and Resources law. It will also discuss the relationship with the basic policies related to Land Use and evaluate the distinction between Law and Policy. The study unit explores the interface between environmental and socio-economic aspects that may be addressed in these instruments and identify gaps. The-study unit will also provide an in depth coverage of the available legal remedies to civilian/authorities to ensure sustainable development is considered in all policy and decision making as an objective of good governance. The study unit explores through case studies how citizens and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) set about influencing political debate and policy formulation on environmental issues.

Study-unit Aims

The study-unit aims to:

• help students acquire a basic but comprehensive overview of the legal obligations relating to sustainable development;

• discuss and apply in practice the basic legal aspects that need to be taken into consideration in order to grasp the advantages and liabilities involved in education on sustainable development law and policy; and

• acquaint students with the major legal and policy principles underlying sustainable development, facilitating the complex interface between the numerous instruments that apply and the multi-disciplinary nature of the topic.

Learning Outcomes

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• outline the basic legal and policy principles relating to sustainable development;

• correctly use legal terms and legal procedures relating to sustainable development in so far as this has an impact on the environment, on resource management and the socio-economic fabric;

• describe the general position of the law and policy in relation to sustainable development;

• identify who are the relevant parties involved in sustainable development policy formulation and the authorities that are legally responsible to implement the policies and laws; and

• describe how CSOs and their representative organisations interact with national and EU institutions on environmental issues.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

• interpret the meaning and legal implications of sustainable development and the policies and laws for their mainstreaming and application;

• identify what legal procedures are involved and who are the authorities responsible for their implementation;

• evaluate the risks and burdens involved as a result of these legal obligations and policies imposed when projecting sustainable development; and

• participate in initiatives that contribute to capacity building at CSO level.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings

Borg, S. & Spiteri, L. (2010) Environmental Law in Malta, Kluwer Publications.

Green S., (2002) Sustainable development awareness and Policy Making in Malta. Unpublished M. Ed. Dissertation, Faculty of Education, University of Malta.

Reference will also be made to the following websites:

• The Environment and Development Planning Act (
• The Malta Resources Authority Act (
• The Heritage Act (
• The EU Portal - DG ENV and DG CLIMA
• The portal of the IUCN Commission on Env Law.


Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%
Important - Due to the COVID19 Pandemic the information regarding the method of assessment indicated above may have been changed. Further details have been provided by your F/I/C/S.

LECTURER/S Simone Borg
Vincent Caruana
Mark C. Mifsud
Mary Muscat
Louise Spiteri

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.