One of the ten most read items of news on the website of the Norwegian national broadcaster NRK in 2016 was ‘En ny epoke’ (‘A new epoch’), which explained the newly minted concept of the Anthropocene period in the evolution of the Earth. Researchers at FNI have conducted extensive research on topics related to the Anthropocene and the Institute is mentioned specifically in the article for hosting in April 2016 a key meeting of the Anthropocene Working Group (AWG) at the Institute’s headquarters at Polhøgda, Lysaker.

International Congress

Research professor Davor Vidas, director of the Law of the Sea and Marine Affairs Programme at FNI and member of the AWG, convened the meeting which helped facilitate the group’s progress and resulted in the presentation of its preliminary findings and recommendations at the 35th International Geological Congress in Cape Town, South Africa, in August 2016. There is a consensus among the members of the group that the Anthropocene is a real geological phenomenon and a distinct period in the planet’s evolution.

Top 100 list

Related work featured in Altmetric’s ‘top 100’ global list of the most discussed scientific articles of 2016. The article in question, which also dealt with the Anthropocene and ‘anthropogenic markers’ was co-authored by Vidas together with other members of the AWG  (several of whom are involved in other research projects at FNI). It was published in the prestigious journal Science and was ranked 84th on the list, out of the 2.7 million articles monitored by Altmetric. It attracted the attention of 100 news outlets and has been broadly discussed in social media, according to Altmetric.

When the study linking the Anthropocene and international law began at FNI in 2009, the concept was virtually unknown to mainstream international law; today, however, there are already a number of articles in leading international law journals and several books on the subject. We were fortunate to have the Research Council of Norway recognize the potential of this pioneering research at such an early stage, thus enabling the FNI to be at the forefront of this research internationally”, says Vidas.

On the agenda

So far, the FNI has led two research projects at the cutting edge of Anthropocene studies and international law. One them is still in progress: Climate Change and Sea Level Rise in the Anthropocene: Challenges for International Law in the 21st Century; the other, named International Law for an Anthropocene Epoch? and initiated in 2011, was the very first research project to foreground the Anthropocene in the field of international law.

The importance of the Anthropocene for the development of international law will continue to occupy an important place on the scientific agenda of the Institute, not least given its potential to enhance interdisciplinary cooperation in the years to come.