Law & Sustainability


Recognize (and advocate) the importance of sustainability for the world and the growing relevance in the law field.

Identity the three dimensions of sustainability and how they are interrelated and explain the ESG framework.

List the most relevant pieces of legislation in this area, at the different levels (global, European, national) and with different nature (soft and hard law).

Explain the trend behind the legislation, identify the most challenging issues for companies and citizens, and evaluate the expected legal development.

General characterization





Responsible teacher

Assunção Cristas


Weekly - 3

Total - 36

Teaching language



Not applicable.


Reports, Strategic Political Documents and Main Legislation

- ¿Transforming our Word: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development¿

- Rio Declaration 2012: ¿The Future we want¿

- European Green Deal

- UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights

- The Ten Principles of UN Global Compact

- Paris Agreement

- European Climate Law

- Portuguese Climate Law

- European Taxonomy

- Non-Financial Reporting Directive and Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive

- Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive

- Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation

Teaching method

Lectures comprise a broad discussion of all topics, with a special focus on concrete examples; special participants might be invited to join the classes.

Depending on the dimension of the class, student´s might be invited to prepare pieces of topics, and make an oral presentation followed by discussion with the professor and colleagues. Group discussions and the debate of specific topics might occur, depending on the dimension of the class.

Evaluation method

Final exam (2 hours).

Depending on the class dimension, students might be invited to choose to handle a written paper, presented, and discussed orally. Other small written exercises, and oral participation in classes, when relevant, might be considered.

In case the student has already a positive evaluation on the written paper, or continuous evaluation, the final exam does not apply.

Subject matter

1. A brief overview of the sustainability path: from the first uses of the concept in the 70s to the 2030 UN Agenda and beyond, how the blocks were and are added.

2. Sustainability and ESG framework: pillars, meanings, and the most relevant policy and legal tools, from the Sustainable Development Goals to the European Green Deal.

3. The global level, the European level, the national level, and the different nature of tools that form the sustainability puzzle.

4. The European Taxonomy as the core spine of the European Legal Architecture: principles and application. The several reporting duties. Compliance and market positioning: the pressures and trend beyond the law.

5. The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive: due diligence obligations on human rights and environment.

6. The climate regulation as a leading trend: the Paris Agreement, the European Climate Law, and the Portuguese climate law. Critical discussion on the nature of the rights and the climate litigation.

7. Sustainable finance: an engine for change.


Programs where the course is taught: