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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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 / Reviews
Protecting the Third Pole: Transplanting International Law (Elgar, 2019)
‘This book offers an in-depth assessment of the relevance of international environmental law for protecting one of the world’s most fascinating ecological regions – the Hindu-Kush Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau. The Third Pole, as this high altitude area is known, is under enormous pressure from local, regional and global threats, including climate change. Marsden assesses the potential for ‘transplanting’ successful environmental regimes from other contexts to the Third Pole, and makes a major contribution to understanding the potential for enhanced environmental governance in this vital region.’ – Tim Stephens, University of Sydney, Australia
‘While to some extent international law protects the first two poles (the Arctic and Antarctic), it has largely been ignored for the “Third Pole” (the Hindu Kush Himalayas / Tibetan Plateau). This book responds to this by reviewing measures for Asia’s polar region. Supplementing analysis of customary international law with potential treaty law, it analyses the practicalities of legal borrowing together with the content of such measures. In doing so it provides an extremely welcome contribution to existing literature on international transplants and broadens the discipline of polar law.’ – Timo Koivurova, University of Lapland, Finland
'The common thread of the book, evident in each chapter, is the need to strengthen transboundary protection in the region through regional governance, diligent implementation of existing requirements, and the political will to adopt new regulations. A particular strength of this book is the author’s evident background and proﬁciency in jurisdictions not commonly covered in the English-language scholarship. The thorough analysis in this book will appeal to scholars researching environmental protection in the “Third Pole” states, but also those interested in regional environmental regimes. Despite the focus on a speciﬁc region, the analysis of the potential legal transplant examples from international environmental agreements, European law, and polar governance, forms the substantial part of the book and is valuable in itself.' - Daria Shapovarova, University of Aberdeen
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
'This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the UNECE’s environmental instruments and their associated implementation and compliance regimes… The most interesting parts of these chapters are where the prospects for the instruments are considered in terms of future development and influence in both Asia and globally… Chapter 8 reflects on the implementation of the UNECE instruments detailed earlier in the book. It does so through the use of Central Asia as a case study. The ‘real-world’ analysis in the context of Central Asia provides an effective framework within which to consider the potential as well as the challenges of the UNECE regime. Finally, Chapter 9 provides substantial analysis of the combined effect of the UNECE agreements. The strong structure of the concluding chapter facilitates an elegant ‘bringing-together’ of the various threads discussed throughout the book.' - Michelle Lim, Griffith Law School, Australia