Environmental Sciences

Environmental Sciences Experts

Thijs Etty

Environmental Economics
Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM)
Netherlands Antilles


Thijs Etty is a Researcher and Lecturer (tenured) in transnational environmental law and biotechnology regulation at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU), Institute for Environmental Studies (IVM), department of Environmental Policy Analysis. He also teaches EU law at the VU Faculty of Law, seconded as a lecturer in the Transnational Legal Studies department. He is also a visiting lecturer of EU environmental law and policy at Leiden University’s EU Studies MA Programme, and serves on the Academic Advisory Board of Leiden University’s International Studies BA Programme. At IVM, he is a member of the Global Environmental Governance Group. Previously, he was coordinator of the IVM cluster on European Law and Policy for Sustainability (ELPS), from 2007 to 2010, as well as the VU International Law Research Colloquium. He is IVM’s institutional representative member of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, and a Research Fellow in various international academic networks, including the Global Governance Project, the Earth System Governance Network, the Ius Commune International Legal Research School, section Transnational Environmental Law, and the Research School for Socio-Economic and Natural Sciences of the Environment (SENSE). Within his specialization of EU biotechnology regulation and environmental law, Thijs Etty is frequently consulted and cited as a key expert in his field by leading international news media (see selection below), his legal opinions and commentary has been cited in parliamentary enquiries in the Dutch Senate and Parliamentary committees, and he been consulted as a scientific expert advisor by invitation of the European Commission, the European Parliament, various political parties, and national and regional governmental and parliamentary bodies of various EU Member States. In 2010, he was appointed legal expert advisor to the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC), to advise this leading EU advisory body on legislative proposals for future EU biotechnology policy. His current main research interests include transnational environmental law, ‘new’ and multi-level governance modes in the EU, implementation and enforcement of EU environmental law, the trade and environment nexus, risk regulation and food (safety) policies, regulation of novel technologies including biotechnology and nanotechnology, GMO-crop coexistence governance, and environmental integration, climate mainstreaming and sustainable development in EU external relations and development cooperation policies. He has led or participated in various projects involving both fundamental and applied policy-oriented research in each of these policy areas, including EU-Commission funded projects, for the Dutch government, and for NGOs. He also works as an independent legal consultant for clients including civil society and environmental NGOs, government, EU institutions, and industry. His PhD on biotechnology law focuses on the emerging multi-level governance strategies for the coexistence between GM and non-GM agriculture and food production in the EU; a novel debate often referred to as the ‘final frontier’ of EU agricultural biotechnology policy. As a lecturer, Thijs has taught and coordinated various graduate and undergraduate courses on subjects including basic EU law, biotechnology regulation, environmental law and policy at national, EU and international level, and risk and precaution. He has taught English and Dutch classes for students of diverse nationalities and disciplinary backgrounds, including law-students, non-lawyers, and interdisciplinary groups. Since 2003, his teaching has been awarded a career-average student evaluation score of 4.55/5. Thijs Etty is an experienced editor and author with leading international publishers and journals. As of 2011, he is founding Editor-in-Chief (with Veerle Heyvaert, LSE) of Cambridge University Press’ new peer-reviewed Transnational Environmental Law Journal (TELJ). From 2003 to 2009, he was Editor-in-Chief of Oxford University Press’ Yearbook of European Environmental Law, having served on its editorial board, in various editorial positions, since its launch in 1998. He sits on editorial boards of several law journals, acts as reviewer for various journals and publishing houses, and has published articles and chapters in various international academic and professional journals and books. He is also co-author of the Dutch Handbook on EU Environmental Policy in the Netherlands (published by the Dutch Ministry of Environment), and lead author of its chapters on EU environmental policy-making; EU water policy; and EU biotechnology and GM food policy. He also authors the annual review chapter on European and international law and policy of biotechnology, for Oxford University Press’ Yearbook of International Environmental Law. Thijs received his legal training at the law schools of New York University (NYU) (USA), the University of Amsterdam (NL), and the Radboud University Nijmegen (NL), where he obtained two Master of Laws degrees (LL.M.) in European & International Law (Nijmegen University), and in Dutch and Comparative Law (University of Amsterdam). Before joining the VU University Amsterdam in August 2006, he worked at the other main university in the Dutch capital, the University of Amsterdam (UvA); at the Centre for Environmental Law and Sustainability (ACELS) and the Research Unit for Biotechnology Regulation Amsterdam (RUBRA). At the UvA, he held research associate and (junior) lecturer positions since February 2003, and before that a research assistant position since April 2000. Prior to that, since 1998, he worked as a research assistant with the department of European and international law at the Radboud University Nijmegen. Expertise European Union law; Transnational environmental law and policy; Agricultural biotechnology governance, including GMO foods; Risk regulation and novel technologies including nanotechnology; Food safety law and ethical and sustainable food production; Implementation and enforcement of EU environmental policy; Trade and environment nexus. Main focus on regulation and governance at EU level, but also relationships and interplay between EU, national and international levels and agencies of government.

Research Interest

Environmental Policy Analysis


  • Etty TFM. International biotechnology law and policy: year in review (2012). In Fauchald OK, Hunter D, Xi W, editors, The Yearbook of International Environmental Law, Volume 23. Oxford: Oxford University press. 2014. (The Yearbook of International Environmental Law; 23). Available from, DOI: 10.1093/yiel/yvs100

  • Oosterhuis FH, van der Grijp NM, Etty TFM, Douma WT, van der Velde S, Groothuijse FAM et al. Handboek implementatie milieubeleid EU in Nederland. The Hague: Kenniscentrum Infomil, 2014.

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