My research interests are primarily in the relationship between law, politics and the environment. Over the course of my academic career, my research has focused on eight main areas:
1. Environmental assessment
The subject area of my doctoral studies, this has encompassed links between law and management, and has concentrated upon environmental impact assessment (EIA) in transboundary contexts and strategic environmental assessment (SEA). I have continued to research into these areas over the last 20 years or so, with expertise in various domestic jurisdictions (UK, Australia, Hong Kong) and in international and European law.
2. Transboundary environmental governance
While initiated by my interests in environmental assessment, this has broadened considerably over the last 5 or 6 years to include other issues, which have linked international law with international relations. In particular they have focused on the regional environmental agreements of the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) and sub-regional agreements that apply in Asia, such as the Mekong Agreement.
3. Compliance procedures
My interest in international compliance procedures relates to my scholarship more generally on the relationship between international and European law. I have examined the distinction between dispute settlement and dispute avoidance, the relationship between national implementation reporting and compliance controls, and considered specific arrangements under the ECE treaties, and in other international agreements such as the World Heritage Convention.
4. Public participation
My interest in public participation derives from my background in EIA and experience with public law, whether domestically or internationally. In particular, I have had work published on the role of public participation in international law, especiallly on the ECE Aarhus Convention in the relationship between international and EU law - and connections with global administrative law - and the role of public inquiries in understanding major environmental and resource conflicts in the UK and Australia.
5. Protected areas
Within the context of conservation law, protected areas are a particular interest, notably the international environmental agreements that inscribe and protect properties/species under the World Heritage, Wetlands and Biodiversity Conventions. I have strong interests in wilderness / wild land which, like the interests in the conservation conventions, I have explored in domestic contexts, notably in Australia, Canada, and, recently, the UK / Scotland.
6. Polar governance
In addition to analysing how the other areas of focus operate in Arctic and Antarctic contexts, I have also analysed other international law in polar contexts, recently issues related to fisheries and search and rescue. Governance of the Third Pole (Himalayas / Tibetan Plateau) is the other area of significant recent research focus, which is highly interdisciplinary in scope as well as broad in content.
7. Energy law and policy
Of the three areas of the energy 'triangle' (economics, politics, environment), my focus is 'squarely' upon the last two. I have recently researched issues of public participation and national security in energy contexts, and have longstanding strengths in environmental dimensions of energy issues, particularly evaluating significant environmental effects from major projects. These interests have been contextualised into my main areas of geographical focus (Australia, Asia, Europe and the Poles).
8. Public law
In a domestic context, I have experience of constitutional and administrative law from teaching in the UK and Australia, and legal practice at the Environment Agency of England and Wales. I have also published on constitutional law issues in Hong Kong, in connection with the developing Hong Kong-China relationship. I continue to follow the public law and domestic politics of the UK, Australia and Hong Kong closely, especially the relationship between the devolved governance of Scotland and the UK, state-federal matters in Australia, and the autonomy-sovereignty discourse in the HKSAR.
Recent Book Endorsements
Environmental Regimes in Asian Subregions: China and the Third Pole (Elgar, 2017)
'Simon Marsden’s book is extremely timely and provides a very welcome addition to the literature on legal frameworks towards the environment in Asia. The book covers a wide variety of legal regimes from southwest to south and southeast Asia with special attention to the Tibetan Plateau and China’s approach towards (transboundary) environmental governance. It will be of great help to researchers, planners, legal experts, and policy makers focusing on the protection of one of the world’s most unique regions – the Third Pole.'– Clemens Kunze, International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), Nepal
‘The Third Pole sits on top of the world, and rightly so. Its pure magnificence steers global action and politics. The fate of the Third Pole might equal the fate of China and of mankind as we know it. Thus, one cannot overstate the relevance of this region and the topic overall. This thorough book comes up with a new, and overlooked angle: the law, policies and governance instruments for this region so essential for mankind. While one might ponder whether the law for this region, for China, and for global governance, acts as we know it in the western world and its courts, there is no doubt that a suitable, effective, fair and sustainable policy scheme is required for this region (also referred to as the "Water Towers" of the world). This milestone publication sets the stage and offers us a fresh and hopeful look at the issue. With climate change and many other threats on the rise, we all hope for the best.’– Falk Huettmann, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, US
Transboundary Environmental Governance in Asia: Practice and Prospects with the UNECE Agreements (Elgar, 2015, with Brandon)
‘With an insightful, engaging and practical approach, Transboundary Environmental Governance in Asia addresses two areas in the existing literature that have received relatively little scholarly attention – the UNECE, the only one of the UN regional commissions to have produced any environmental treaties, and tackling cross-border environmental issues in Asia. Marsden and Brandon are to be applauded for their work, which promises to be a starting point for any future research and governance efforts in Asian environmental law and policy’ – Jolene Lin, The University of Hong Kong, HKSAR