Environmental Law Initiative offers research funding for staff and students

Do you have an environmental law research project that could lead to court proceedings to better protect New Zealand's natural environment?

Applications are now open for funding to conduct research into environmental law topics in priority areas.

Funded thanks to the Environmental Law Initiative (ELI) Trust, the ELI Research Fund is administered by Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington on behalf of the Trust.

The Trust was set up to make a positive difference to the protection of New Zealand ecosystems and biodiversity through the application and improvement of New Zealand environmental law. The aim of this research programme is to fund the substantive legal research rather than its administration or any proceedings themselves.

Applications will be accepted from current staff and students of Victoria University of Wellington carrying out research in New Zealand. Funding up to $30,000 per application may be awarded. Projects to be funded will be selected by an external selection panel whose decision will be final.

The fund was launched in 2020. The four research projects that were awarded funding last year were, A Fundamental Environmental Rule of Law, looking at how an environmental rule of law could be developed or discovered within the legal system; Wellington Community Justice Project, a student-led investigation into the environmental and resource law issues relating to a quarrying site; Whose interests are protected? The case of the EPA Board of Inquiry decision regarding Te Puka stream in the Transmission Gully project, and Natural Laws: Physics in Whakataukī, looking at the relation between whakataukī and iwi environmental management plans.

One recipient, Sarah Monod de Froideville, said “The law remains our best instrument for protecting the environment. By focusing on this relationship, the ELI Research Fund supports research examining how the law may do better in this regard. The fund has enabled me to employ a research assistant to help with data collection and the first stages of analysis for my project.”

Jasmine Cox, who worked alongside Professor Catherine Iorns on her project ‘A Fundamental Environmental Rule of Law’, said “I am so excited and honoured as a student to be part of this research project. This scholarship enables students to use skills they’ve been learning for years, alongside an academic, to contribute to a tangible project. It’s an opportunity we seldom get at university. It will also allow me to use my summer to continue developing research skills over the break and learn about something I am truly passionate about—which might have a significant impact.”

Applications are open now until 9 am on 8 June 2021.

Download the application form (Word).

Direct applications and enquiries to allison.kay@vuw.ac.nz.