The Circulation of the Model of Sustainable Development: Tracing the Path in a Comparative Law Perspective

  • Ivano AlognaEmail author


The analysis of the diffusion of Sustainable Development at the global level can provide an interesting starting point to see how even one of the most important and universally recognized concepts can give rise to different interpretations and applications. This diffusion is observed here through the mechanism of the circulation of legal models, the cornerstone of comparative legal studies. The circulation of legal models, made famous by Alan Watson with the metaphor of “legal transplant”, provides a dynamic approach to the study of comparative law. According to this theory, a transfer of a rule from a legal system to another or from one people to another, not only is not an exception, but also proves to be a common practice since the most ancient of history. Sustainable Development, as a new paradigm adopted at the international level, has shown its dynamics through the vertical and horizontal circulation of its models. Moreover, this contribution will be an opportunity to propose a third type of circulation of legal models: the “oblique” circulation. Thus, the model of Sustainable Development becomes the starting point for the development of regulations based on its principles, but those have different characteristics depending on the context where they are implemented. Therefore, this contribution is an attempt at tracing the path made by Sustainable Development through different stages of its evolution and through various legal systems, trying to shed light on the dynamics of this journey without losing sight of the typical goals of Sustainable Development.


Circulation of legal models Diffusion of sustainable development Horizontal circulation Vertical circulation Oblique circulation 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of LawUniversity of Paris Panthéon-AssasParisFrance
  2. 2.Doctoral School in Legal StudiesUniversity of MilanMilanItaly
  3. 3.Doctoral School of Private LawUniversity of Paris Panthéon-AssasParisFrance

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