Alice Bleby

Alice Bleby

Postgraduate Research Student
Masters of International and European Environmental Law - Aix-Marseille Université, Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Laws (Hons) - University of Melbourne, Diploma of Modern Languages (French) - University of Melbourne, Graduate Diploma of Legal Practice - Australian National University

Scientia PhD Candidate, UNSW Law

Alice Bleby is a Scientia PhD candidate in the Faculty of Law and Justice at UNSW, researching the rights of nature as a legal instrument for protecting the Earth in the Anthropocene.

Since commencing her PhD studies in 2019, Alice has provided research assistance on environmental law projects and worked with colleagues in the Faculty to deliver postgraduate courses in Natural Resources Law and International Environmental Law. With Dr Marc de Leeuw, Alice has developed a new course Transforming Environmental Law: Exploring Legal Rights of Nature which will be offered as a postgraduate elective in the Faculty from 2022. Alice is also working on collaborative empirical research projects about climate change framework legislation, in particular the Climate Change Act 2017 (Vic). With colleagues from UNSW and the University of Melbourne, Alice co-organised the inaugural Environmental Law Doctoral Researchers’ Workshop, held in 2021.

Prior to commencing her PhD, Alice led the Climate Change Adaptation Policy team in the Victorian Government Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP). She was the lead author of Victoria’s Climate Change Adaptation Plan 2017-2020, a whole-of-government blueprint for adaptation action. Alice built her skills in policy and advocacy working with environment NGOs and youth-led organisations. Prior to joining the Victorian Government Alice was Senior Adviser to Ellen Sandell MLA, State MP for Melbourne.

Alice’s research examines how laws that recognise nature as a legal subject are theorised and constructed, and how they operate in practice. Using theoretical, doctrinal and empirical research techniques, she aims to understand how a paradigm shift in the way law contemplates nature can be effected, and how it may change the way law protects the environment in practice. Alice’s research is situated in the Anthropocene, and asks how rights of nature laws can respond to the challenges and rapidly evolving dynamics of this new age, when the impact of human-social systems on the Earth is testing planetary boundaries and threatening the community of life on Earth.

Areas of Research

Rights of nature, Environmental law, International environmental law, Anthropocene, Climate change, Oceans


Cameron Holley, Marc de Leeuw, Rosemary Rayfuse

Publications and presentations

  • Alice Bleby, Cameron Holley and Ben Milligan, 'Exploring the planetary boundaries and environmental law: historical development, interactions and synergies' in Duncan French and Louis J. Kotzé (eds), Research Handbook on Law, Governance and Planetary Boundaries (Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2021), 21-44
  • Anita Foerster, Alice Bleby and Anne Kallies, ‘A great start, but still not enough: why Victoria’s new climate target isn’t as ambitious as it sounds’ The Conversation (AU), 10 May 2021
  • Alice Bleby, 'Rights of Nature as a Response to the Anthropocene' (2020) 48(1) University of Western Australia Law Review 33
  • ‘Addressing law’s unequal treatment of nature by recognising nature’s legal rights’ presentation to 13th SOAS PhD Law Colloquium, Law and Inequality, online, 8 June 2021.
  • ‘The new reality of the Anthropocene: new expectations for (environmental) law?’ presentation to 7th Edinburgh Postgraduate Law Conference, Great Expectations: When Law Meets Reality, online, 19-20 April 2021.
  • ‘Developing Earth system law by exploring legal rights of nature’, presentation to Taskforce on Earth System Law seminar (Asia-Pacific), online, 17 March 2021.
  • (Co-presenter with lead researcher Dr Anita Foerster, Monash University) ‘Paris at the subnational scale? An analysis of the early implementation and potential impact of climate change legislation in Victoria, Australia’, presentation to the 7th Frontiers in Environmental Law Colloquium, Adelaide (online), 25-26 February 2021.
  • ‘Reconciling Rights of Nature with the Anthropocene’, presentation to Earth Laws Asia Pacific – Earth, Sea, Fire, Spirit Conference, online, 14-16 October 2020.