Ruprecht-Karls-University of Heidelberg
Faculty of Law
Research Center for Sustainable Development Law
Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage 6-10
D-69117 Heidelberg

More Links

Research Center for Sustainable Development Law

Sustainable development is development that satisfies the needs of present,
 without risking the ability of future generations to satisfy their own needs
(Bundtland-Report, 1987) 


The Research Center for Sustainable Development Law is an academic organization of Ruprecht-Karls University of Heidelberg (Faculty of Law). It was established with effect from 1.3.2009 by Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Kahl, who is also ever since the head of the Institute by being its executive director; Prof. Dr. Ute Mager is since 1.1.2011 member of the Research Center for Sustainable Development Law.

The Research Center for Sustainable Development Law promotes academic legal research in the field of sustainable development. Its aim is define and concretize the normative guiding principle of sustainable development at a global, European, national, regional and local level in order to provide a conceptual understanding of the principle to develop this principle theoretically, while making it operational for the legal praxis.

In that way, there is a contribution to the judicial treatment of the conflicting aims that are inherent in the concept of sustainable development when widely defined, which seeks to strike a balance between ecological, economic and social aspects (Three-Pillars model). In the center of this balancing procedure lies the guiding principle that scarce resources must be dealt with in a considerate and responsible way, so that the interests of future generations are taken into account (intra- and intergenerational equality).

This set of aims can be unfolded in three main directions:

  • Understanding of the theoretical foundations of sustainable development as a political guiding concept and as a legal guiding principle (eg. legal nature, intergenerational equity, human rights, institutions, procedure, methods, comparative law);
  • Analysis of and solution to sector-specific legal implementation problems regarding the protection of life and resources conservation (eg. climate protection, renewable energy recourses, biological variety, water protection, state responsibility, social security systems, education, demographic change) and
  • scientific guidance in practice (eg. operational management of sustainable development, sustainable legislation).

The Research Center has therefore a trans- and interdisciplinary orientation; it constitutes a part of the core areas on life- and environmental sciences of the University of Heidelberg and participates in particular in the interdisciplinary cluster of “Global Change and Globalization”.

The Research Center engages in the following activities in order to achieve its goals:

  • Realization of academic research projects;
  • Publication of the series „Law of the sustainable development“ („Recht der Nachhaltigen Entwicklung - RNE“) (appears in Mohr Siebeck publishing house, Tübingen);
  • Promotion of academic exchange through the organization of conferences, workshops, presentations etc.;
  • Cooperation with foreign researchers and faculties;
  • Creation and maintenance of the Research Center’s library;
  • Promotion of the dialogue between science and practice;
  • Raising of external funds;
  • Support of young scientists;
  • Objective legal advice, particularly with regard to policy. (Sachverständige Beratung, insbesondere gegenüber der Politik).


Editor: Anja Ihli
Last Revision: 2023-01-26
zum Seitenanfang/up