This project takes as its starting point a concern increasingly expressed in natural science in recent years, on the possible shift from the Holocene to a new epoch, the Anthropocene. Human-induced effects, it is held, might contribute decisively towards pushing the Earth System away from the Holocene, the latest geological epoch of 11,700 years characterised by environmental stability and, as such, a factor significant for the development of human civilisation.

In 2009, a working group was established within the International Commission on Stratigraphy in order to examine the stratigraphic basis for the term "Anthropocene" and to consider the justification for its possible formalisation as the most recent geological time unit. Formal recognition of the Anthropocene as a new geological unit in the history of the planet, supported by firm geological evidence could critically raise awareness and highlight the magnitude of human impact on the Earth System.

International law may be facing fundamental challenges, with the need emerging for pragmatic and feasible international law concepts, robust enough to tackle fundamentally new challenges. This project focuses on how key areas of international law researched at the FNI – the law of the sea, environmental law and genetic resources law – can respond to the challenges that are likely to occur as a result of a shift to the Anthropocene epoch.

Project period: 2011-2015



  • Research Council of Norway, JUSISP-2 Programme