International Treaties

Sustainable Development

Environmental Law

Case Studies


Environmental Crime Legal Framework in Austria

    Federal and provincial governments promote environmental goals and policies in order to maintain the country’s thriving tourism industry. These goals have been strengthened by the social partnerships at both the federal and provincial levels.

    Article 10 of Austria’s Federal Constitution features provisions for:

  • Mining
  • Forestry, including timber floating (Triftwesen)
  • Water( ie. the construction and maintenance of waterways)
  • The normalization and standardization of electrical plants and installations (ie. safety measures in this field)

Featured Legislation

1975: The Forest Act was passed. The Act promotes a general commitment to the sustainable use of the forests, consolidating the intentions of the sustainable forest management. The Act also regulates the collection of non-wood forest products and harvesting rights.

1990: The Clean-up of Contaminated Sites Law was approved by the Federal Government. The act ensures the protection of human beings, animals, plants and their natural environment through the principles of waste prevention, waste processing and waste disposal.

1990: The Federal Waste Management Act was introduced. The Act sets out to mitigate harmful effects on human beings, animals, plants and their natural environment through the principles of waste prevention, waste processing and waste disposal.

1993: The Environment Promotion Act was passed. The purpose of this Act is to promote environmental protection by providing measures governing the treatment of waste water, the abatement or reduction of air pollution, hazardous substances affecting the climate, noise and industrial waste. It also provides funding for environmental measures in neighbouring countries, the Slovak and the Czech Republics, Hungary and Slovenia, to improve the Austrian environment. The Act sets up three commissions responsible for advising the Minister of the Environment, Youth and the Family, on matters relating to the financing of environmental protection measures, and measures to promote environmental programmes, and for drafting environmental Directives. These Directives will spell out the conditions to be met in order to qualify for financing, the types of projects eligible for financial aid, the technical evaluation of project proposals, etc.

1997: The Pollution Impact Act was passed, overseeing the implementation of relevant EU Directives. The Act contains provisions for the permanent protection of human health and the environment against air pollutants; the preventive reduction of air pollutants; and the preservation of good air quality and/or the improvement of air quality.

1997: The Chemicals Act was signed. The Act protects human life and health as well as of the environment from harmful effects resulting from the processing, handling and circulation of certain chemicals.

1997: The Air Pollution Impact Act was created, outlining  mandatory limit values and targets in relation to certain air pollutants.

1999: The Mineral Resources Act was established to lay down provisions relating to the exploration and exploitation of mineral raw materials.

2000: The Environmental Impact Assessment Act was passed, pushing for tighter regulations in the following areas:

  • Waste management projects (for example, hazardous waste treatment plants)
  • Infrastructure projects (for example, constructions of roads or railways)
  • Energy plants (for example, oil and gas facilities)
  • Water projects (for example, hydropower plants)
  • Plants for chemical production
  • Natural gas fracking

2001: The Environment Management Act was passed. The present Act lays down, inter alia, implementing measures for the nomination of environmental experts provided for in Council Regulation (EEC) No. 1836/93 allowing voluntary participation by companies in the industrial sector in a Community eco-management and audit scheme. Such accredited environmental verifier has the duty to assure (a) whether the environmental policy has been established; (b) whether an environmental management system and programme are in place and operational at the site; (c) whether the environmental review and audit are carried out in accordance with the relevant requirements; (d) whether the data and information in the environmental statement are reliable and whether the statement adequately covers all the significant environmental issues of relevance to the site. Article 1 of the present Act establishes that, according to this Act, environmental experts include both environmental organizations and individuals. Article 2 lists the requirements concerning accreditation of environmental verifiers. Thereafter, the Act deals also with topics such as: conditions required for members of an expert team, accreditation of environmental experts by the Federal Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Environment and Water Management, application procedures; supervision of experts, dissemination of information or data; experts of other member states, revocation of accreditation, register of authorized experts, administrative procedures, penalties etc. The Act consists of 34 articles divided into 4 chapters.

2014: Biodiversity Strategy Austria 2020+ was introduced. This Biodiversity Strategy 2020 aims at conserving Austria’s biological diversity, at keeping in check the loss and degradation of species, genetic diversity and habitats as well as addressing and minimising the causes of hazards. Our goal is to make Austria a country worth living in, with pure air, clean water, a diverse nature, as well as safe and affordable food of high quality.

Featured Case Studies: Transnational Environmental Crime, Human Security, and Biosecurity

  • The Center for International Legal Cooperation aims to strengthen environmental crime enforcement in Austria by developing policy options and recommendations of an environmental strategy; enhancing the skills of prosecutors and judges on environmental crime prosecution; and improving the cross-sector partnerships among national authorities. The goal is to establish an environmental strategy which will include a National Environmental Security Taskforce (NEST) with enhanced investigative powers.
  • The direct persecution of protected species such as white-tailed eagles and imperial eagles is a growing problem in Austria. Raptor species such as buzzards, kites and harriers have been pushed to the brink of extinction due to the illegal shooting, trapping and poisoning of endangered species. So called “hot spots” have been identified in three districts in Lower Austria and there have been 87 documented cases of illegal persecution involving a total of 165 animals from 2016-2020.

References and Further Reading


Federal Ministry for Climate Action, Environment, Energy, Mobility, Innovation and Technology: