There have been enormous advances in constituting environmental rights, a trend that has been dubbed an ‘environmental rights revolution’ (Boyd, 2012). A large body of environmental law, instruments and frameworks has emerged in all developed countries, most developing countries, and on an international level. However conceptual vagueness, weakness and timidity have characterized the formulation and implementation of global goals for sustainable development. The objective of sustainable human –nature coexistence with human-human equity appears to be receding, rather than being progressively realized, spurring some scientists to call for an alternative implementation of ‘Earth Jurisprudence’ (Rühs & Jones, 2016; Voight, 2013). The legal and goal-setting approaches miss the failures of intelligibility underpinning many shortcomings of environmental regulation, policymaking and public mobilization for sustainable development. Although sustainability norms and principles are well-known, they fail to gain traction at the level of policy negotiation and goal-setting.
The paper addresses the intelligibility gap between environmental law and the politics of really existing unsustainability (Barry, 2012). It begins by making the argument for an inter-disciplinary approach to the themes of this major conference – environment, health and agriculture. It then moves toward an argument for strong transdisciplinarity normatively centred on health. Strong transdisciplinarity requires an epistemological shift to accept multiple levels of reality, the principle of the ‘included middle’ and complexity. Rational and relational modes of reasoning are simultaneously included (Max-Neef, 2005) in transdisciplinary science, policy and citizen participation.