UCL Faculty of Laws


2018 Centre for Law & the Environment Annual Lecture

30 October 2018, 6:00 pm–7:00 pm

Wise Bird - Centre for Law and the Environment Annual Lecture

Is Legal Mobilization for the Birds? How and Why Environmental Nongovernmental Organizations Use (and Don’t Use) the Law in the United Kingdom, France, Finland, and Italy

Event Information

Open to



UCL Laws


UCL Laws, Bentham House

Centre for Law and the Environment's Annual Lecture 2018

Speaker: Dr Lisa Vanhala (UCL, Department of Political Science)
Chair: Dr Steven Vaughan (Co-Director, Centre for Law and the Environment, UCL Faculty of Laws).

on Tuesday 30 October 2018, 6pm - 7pm

About the Lecture
What explains the likelihood that a nongovernmental organization (NGO) will turn to the courts to pursue their policy goals? This lecture explores the factors that influence the mobilization of law by environmental NGOs in four Western European countries. It finds that explanations focused on structural factors within each jurisdiction are unable to account for the patterns of within-country variation in legal mobilization behaviour.

The research also shows that bird protection NGOs as well as home-grown national environmental NGOs are generally more likely to turn to law than transnational environmental groups. Although resources and legal opportunities clearly matter to some extent, the findings suggest that explanations of NGO legal mobilization should: (a) incorporate an understanding of how groups frame and interpret the idea of “the law”; and (b) explore the role of “strategy entrepreneurs” who promote the use of particular tactics within an organization.

About the Speaker
Lisa is a Reader in Political Science. She holds a DPhil and MPhil in Politics from University of Oxford, and spent her undergraduate years at McGill University and Sciences Po Paris. Lisa's research looks at the relationship between NGOs, law and social change. She is currently working on three projects. One attempts to solve the puzzle of why some environmental NGOs have chosen to be active participants before the courts while others have completely eschewed the use of legal strategies in pursuit of their policy goals. The second project looks at the role courts play in debates about climate change. She is seeking to understand why we see a judicialization of climate change politics in some countries and some climate-related policy fields but not in others. The third project explores the international politics of climate change loss and damage including ethnographic research on the UN committee that addresses this issue.

Lisa's first monograph, Making Rights a Reality? Disability Rights Activists and Legal Mobilization was published by Cambridge University Press in 2011. The book won the Socio-legal Studies Association and Hart Early Career Prize 2012 and the Best Book in Comparative Politics, Canadian Political Science Association 2012.

About the Centre for Law and the Environment
UCL’s Centre for Law and Environment was established to provide a focal point for the Faculty’s outstanding expertise and academic strength in the field of the environment and the law. The main goals of the Centre are to advance research and teaching and explore the role of law in meeting contemporary environmental and energy challenges.

The Centre is committed to treating domestic law (UK), regional (European Union) and international aspects of environmental law in a comprehensive and integrated manner. This approach is reflected in offerings on the LLM course and the supervision of doctoral students, as well as in the diverse range of research pursued by members of the Centre.

Book your place