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Mapping Weak Signals

Inspired by: FP7 » Growing environmental legal class actions on no-win no-fee basis

version: 6 / updated: 2011-02-08
id: #1640 / version id: #482
mode: VIEW

Originally submitted by: Joe Ravetz
List of all contributors by versions (mouse over)
Last changed by: Rafael Popper
WI-WE status:

Source of inspiration

European Commission Framework Programme for RTD (FP7)

Theme/activity of inspiration

Theme 6 - Environment (including Climate Change)

Sub-theme/area of inspiration

Pressures on environment and climate

Optional reference/s to FP7 project/s

Use the following format: Project Acronym (Project Reference No.). Use commas if more than one project is associated to this Wild Card, for example: ALFA-BIRD (213266), SAFAR (213374), LAPCAT-II (211485)

Signal's headline

(max. 9 words)
Growing environmental legal class actions on no-win no-fee basis

Signal's description

(approx. 150 words)
Please describe the Weak Signal (approx. 150 words)
There is rapid growth of environmental legal class actions on no-win no-fee basis. This originated as local and regional lawsuits in respect of specific and discreet environmental effects. There is now debate on the potential for international lawsuits on such issues as climate change and loss of ecosystems. This indicates the precursors to global scale environmental law suits, with huge commercial opportunities equal to the risks involved. There is also the risk that established negotiation frameworks e.g. UNFCC are bypassed or undermined.


legal, class, environment, lawsuit, commercial


(max. 250 characters)
Growth of environmental legal class actions on no-win no-fee basis indicates the precursors to global scale environmental law suits, with huge commercial opportunities equal to the risks involved.

Signal's first apperance

before 2000

Signal's potential evolution

It could lead to...
issue type of issue/development potential impact on society timeframe for the issue to become at least 50% probable
#1 New forms of international environmental policy process. new/emerging
#2 Focus for populist & anti-globalization movements. continuation
#3 End of conventional corporate practice of ‘dump and disperse’ of pollution. discontinuation


please specify
please select
Level 3: important for the European Union
Level 4: important for the whole world

Filters preventing the signal's monitoring

information/communicational filters (media/editorial interests, language, reasoning)
institutional filters (rules, laws, regulations)
political filters (party or ideological interests)

Comments on selection:

the class action represents a new form of negotiation & political pressure, and so will be subject to many pressures.

Key driving forces of this signal

Please use these boxes to provide up to 2 drivers of HIGH importance. Click on HELP to see examples:
Driver 1 Driver 2
Technological/Scientific demand for greater evidence for proof of causal links
Political pressure through new social movements with a legal channel

Major risks & opportunities associated to the signal

Please choose the most appropriate timeframe option(s) to which you would like to provide inputs.
Risks Opportunities
before 2015 established policy processes in regulation & markets are undermined
between 2015-2025 class actions bring suppressed issues to the surface & into the market place

Potential stakeholders' actions

short-term actions
(after 2015)
Policy actors (at the international, European and national levels) identify opportunities & risks in new forms of class action

Signal's relevance for European Grand Challenges

where? please justify:
particularly relevant Europe world
Coexistence and conflicts
Crime and terrorism
Diseases, health and well-being
Energy security/dynamics
Sustainability and climate change
Water security/vulnerability

Signal's relevance for thematic research areas

please justify:
particularly relevant
Food, Agriculture and Fisheries, and Biotechnology
Environment (including Climate Change)
Social Sciences and Humanities

Pan-European strategies influencing the signal

please justify:
particularly relevant
Improving researchers mobility and career development by, for example, realising a single labour market for researchers.
Fostering and facilitating coherent international cooperation in science and technology

Research-friendly strategies potentially improving understanding of the signal

For further information about 'research-friendly strategies' click here
please justify:
particularly relevant
Strengthening the actors in the research-friendly ecology
(i.e. Research funding organisations, universities, businesses, Research and Technology Organisations, Researchers and Citizens)
Creating a closer link between researchers & policy-makers
(e.g. supporting both thematic and cross-cutting policies, highlighting the strategic purpose of the European Research Area, etc.

Signal's relevance for future R&D and STI policies

Note: RTD = research and technology development; STI = science, technology and innovation
New forms of international environmental policy process.