A coral reef

Centre for Marine Ecological Resilience and Geological Resources (MERGeR)



Welcome to the Centre for Marine Ecological Resilience and Geological Resources (MERGeR). MERGeR addresses the interface between ecosystems, the use of natural resources and the law. Many ecosystems have been badly degraded by human influence, whether through climate change, other forms of pollution, or through over-use of resources. At MERGeR, we investigate how the law promotes or hinders resilience in the face of these threats and challenges, including those posed by geological resources development. MERGeR has a particular focus on marine resources and marine ecosystems resilience but also investigates fresh water and terrestrial ecosystem resilience issues.


MERGeR is committed to providing innovative world-class research in marine ecological resilience and geological resources development in relation to social and ecological resilience. The Centre will strive to lead the development of research in these areas, both in the UK and across the world.

Aims of the Centre

MERGeR’s aims are to:

  • lead the development of understanding in the role of law and lawyers in supporting marine ecological resilience
  • lead the development of a critical approach to, and understanding of, the role of law in the use of geological resources in line with ecological resilience
  • deliver evidence-based research with impact and to collaborate with both government and non-government organisations to achieve this
  • develop a collaborative, interdisciplinary network of cognate research centres and academics to engage in large-scale and long-term research projects
  • participate in debates on law reform and policy development on marine ecological resilience and geological resource development at both national and international levels
  • provide a supportive and collaborative forum for research on marine ecological resilience and geological resource development, which fosters the participation of early career researchers and postgraduate students.
  • News and events in 2017

    Professor Kirk elected Chair of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law

    In June, Professor Kirk was elected Chair of the Board of Governors of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.

    The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law is the only global organization bringing together Law Schools and research institutions from around the world to develop teaching and research capacity in environmental law. The Academy’s conference is the largest annual gathering of environmental law academics in the world. It runs successful projects, such as the Training the Trainers project which helps develop capacity to teach environmental law in Asia.  It also has many publications in the form of edited collections as well as hosting an open access peer reviewed journal and other online resources.

    The Academy is endorsed by the IUCN.  The IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network of governments, international organizations, non-government organizations (NGOs), local communities and private enterprises working to develop solutions to the most pressing environmental challenges.

    A number of members of MERGeR have also contributed to the work of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law through chapters in the multi-volume Encyclopedia for Environmental Law, an IUCN Academy project in collaboration with academic publisher, Edward Elgar.

    Professor Ong has contributed a chapter on ‘Environmental Principles in International Investment Law’, which will be published in the volume on Environmental Principles. For the research and writing of this chapter, Professor Ong was able to draw from his teaching experience in the very successful LLM in Oil, Gas & Mining Law that he directs at Nottingham Law School, which, inter alia, examines ecological resilience issues associated with the extraction of geological resources.

    Professor Kirk and PhD candidates Chioma Ibe and Naporn Popattanachai contributed a chapter on ‘The Convention on the Protection of the Black Sea Against Pollution” and Professor Kirk and PhD candidate Nawaporn Saeneewong Na Ayudhaya contributed a chapter on ‘The Black Sea Biodiversity and Landscape Conservation Protocol’.  Both chapters will be published in the Multilateral Environmental Agreements volume of the Encyclopedia.

    Professor Kirk presents her research in the Philippines

    In June Professor Kirk gave a plenary presentation on the innovative legal approaches to addressing marine ecosystems at the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Annual Colloquium, held in Cebu, Philippines.

    MERGeR Workshop

    On 3 May 2017 MERGeR held its inaugural workshop to discuss the key foci of the Centre – marine ecological resilience and geological resources. Participants for the workshop were drawn from across the UK and the rest of Europe and from a range of academic disciplines as well as from relevant organisations.  A copy of the report can be found here.


    Professor Kirk became an ex officio member of the World Commission on Environmental Law this autumn. WCEL is a network of environmental law and policy experts from all regions of the world who volunteer their knowledge and services to IUCN activities, especially to those of the IUCN Law Programme. WCEL functions as an integral part of the IUCN Environmental Law Programme (ELP), which includes the World Commission on Environmental Law and the Environmental Law Centre.


    Liu, Kirk & Henriksen (eds) "The European Union and the Arctic", published by Brill September, 2017 (with Liu, Henriksen and Kirk having written the Introduction and Conclusions chapters of this book). The book is published in hardback and as open access.  The open access copy can be found here http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/books/9789004349179

    David M. Ong, Litigation against multinational oil companies in their home state jurisdictions: an alternative legal response to pollution damage in foreign jurisdictions?, Chapter 14 in Celine Tan & Julio Faundez (eds) Natural Resources & Sustainable Development, Edward Elgar (2017) 278-297;

    Olivier N. Yambo, ‘What is the future of Planet Earth? United States Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement and the need to legally change to help aid the environment for a better future’ in Lawyer Monthly.

    David M. Ong ‘Implications of the Chagos MPA Arbitral Tribunal Award: Finding a Balance between Natural Environmental Protection and Traditional Maritime Freedoms’, Chapter 10,in Stephen Allen and Chris Monaghan, (eds), Fifty Years of the British Indian Ocean Territory: Legal Perspectives, Springer (forthcoming, 2018) c.13.5K words;

    David M. Ong ‘Environmental Principles in International Investment Law’, Chapter 49 in Emanuela Orlando & Ludwig Kramer (eds) IUCN Encyclopedia on Environmental Principles, Edward Elgar (forthcoming, 2018) c.12K words;

    David M. Ong ‘International Law of the Sea’, in The Law of Treaties, edited by Dino Kritsiotis & Michael Bowman (eds), Cambridge University Press (forthcoming, 2018) c.15K words ;

    David M. Ong Shared Responsibility or Institutional Accountability? Continuing Conceptual and Enforcement Issues for Grievance Mechanisms of Public and Private International Finance Institutions, c.21K words, submitted to the Journal of International Law & International Relations, in October, 2017.

    Professor Su (ARES) authored with Mr Casamayor a Journal paper entitled ‘A design method to eco-design lighting products during the embodiment design stage’, LEUKOS -the Journal of the Illuminating Engineering Society (SNIP 1.281). The paper has been accepted for publication subject to revision.

    Professor Su signed a contract with Springer for writing a Book entitled ‘Sustainable Product Development: Tools, Methods and Examples’, which will be submitted in March 2018 for publication by Springer.

    Conference Presentations, Workshops & Meetings Attended

    In mid-September, 2017 Professor Ong was the co-convener of the Workshop on ‘Beyond the Joint Development Agreement’ sponsored by the KMI, in K.L., Malaysia, which inaugurated the eponymous research project, as well as a Panel Chair/Moderator at the Workshop for Maritime and Territorial Disputes (NEMT) also organised by KMI & the East Asian International Relations Caucus.

    On 19-21 September, 2017 Professor Kirk presented a paper on Public Participation in Arctic decision-making at the annual UK Arctic Science Conference, held this year in Oban, Scotland.

    Professor Ong gave a presentation on The International Legal Threshold for Historic Rights in the South China Sea Award at Conference on Historic Rights in the Law of Sea at Zhejiang University, in Hangzhou, China in October, 2017, for which his flight and accommodation costs were paid by the organisers.

    By exclusive invitation, Professor Ong also participated in the 2017 Halifax International Security Forum held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, in mid-November, 2017 where he was one of three speakers at a Forum Dinner Session event entitled: ‘Securing the Seas: Asia’s Troubled Waters’, and for which he has received a USD$1,500 travel & accommodation grant to attend.

    Professor Su presented an Invited Speech entitled ‘Sustainable product design and packaging’ at the International Symposium on Packaging Design and Cultural held 13th -14th October 2017, Shanghai, China.

    Professor Su has been invited to give a Keynote Speech in the area of product eco-cost and e-commerce at the 3rd International Conference on Innovative Development of E-commerce and Logistics, to be held in Zhengzhou, China, 18-19 November, 2017.

    Professor Su presented and published a paper: You Wu, Daizhong Su, Wenjie Peng and Qianren Zhang, 2017, ‘Application of Lifecycle Assessment and Finite Element Analysis in the Design of Raised Access Floor Products’, in proceedings of XIV International Conference on Computational Plasticity - Fundamentals and Applications, 5-7 September 2017, Barcelona, Spain.

    Ms Alberro presented a poster presentation of her earlier research plans (‘From Hierarchies to Rhizomes: Assessing the Potentialities in Radical Green Groups and Philosophies for a Fundamental Reconstruction of the Human-Nature Dialectic’) at NTU’s December Doctoral School Conference in 2016, and was awarded the audience prize for ‘Best Poster’.

    Ms Alberro presented a paper titled ‘‘An Ecocritical Analysis of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and Earth First! as Ecotopian Expressions’ at the 18th annual Utopian Studies Society conference in Gdańsk, Poland, 5-8 July 2017.


MERGeR brings together legal academics and PhD researchers from Nottingham Law School, academics from across Nottingham Trent more generally and external members in a thriving research centre.  A full list of members is provided below.

Related Staff

Professor Elizabeth Kirk (Co-director)

Professor David Ong (Co-director)

Mr. Olivier Yambo (Coordinator)

Research students

Mr Naporn Popattanachai

Ms Hamida Aljaridi

Mr Olivier Noël Yambo

Ms Nawaporn Saeneewong Na Ayudhaya

Ms Ronnah Tukundane Tumusiime

Ms Heather Alberro

Ms Laxmi Aggarwal

Jan Nathrath

Sattam Alrowais

Suliman Alshahmy

Advisory Board Members

Professor Frank Maes

Mr Chris Whomersley

Professor Tina Hunter

Professor Keyuan Zou

Professor Ellen Hey

Assistant Professor Edward Goodwin

Mr Stanley Johnson

Mr Malcolm Forster


To be published.

Related projects

To be published.

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