Professor Donna Craig

Professor, School of Law

B.A., LL.B (University of NSW), LL.M (Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Canada)


Donna Craig is a specialist in international, comparative and national environmental law and policy. She was one of the founders of Macquarie University Centre for Environmental Law (1983) and a key member of the Centre until her current appointment as a Professor of Environmental Law, School of Law, at the University of Western Sydney. She is Adjunct Professor at the Centre for Agriculture and law, University of New England and Wenzou University, China. Donna also held the foundation Research Chair as Professor of Desert Knowledge, Charles Darwin University. She has over 30 years experience in research, legal practice, teaching and working with communities, NGO’s, indigenous peoples’ organisations, governments and corporations. Her research and publications emphasize the social, cultural and human rights dimensions of legislation, programs, impact assessment and sustainable development. Her water law research includes resource management, capacity building and Indigenous cultural value issues. She works with Aboriginal organisations developing natural resource based livelihoods and advising on national and international legal regimes. Donna served as Regional Vice-Chair for Oceania of the World Conservation Union, Commission of Environmental Law, for eight years, is a member of the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority (2007-2012), a member of Advisory Board of Greenland-based International Training Centre of Indigenous Peoples, and Regional Governor of the International Council on Environmental Law.

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Areas of Research / Teaching Expertise

Sustainable Development and Environmental Law (including Governance), Natural Resource Law, Indigenous Rights and Natural Resource Law (including Sustainable Livelihoods, Customary Law, Protected Area Management, Freshwater Resources and Intellectual and Cultural Property), International and Comparative Environmental Law, Biodiversity Law, Water Law, Environmental and Social Responsibilities of Corporate and Financial Organizations, Planning and Pollution Law.

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Grants / Current Projects/PhD Supervision

Professional Experience and Past Positions

  • Professorial Fellow, Associate Director, Centre for Environmental Law, Director CEL Indigenous Rights Program, Macquarie University, Centre for Environmental Law, Macquarie University, Sydney
  • Foundation Research Chair, Professor of Desert Knowledge, Charles Darwin University, Australia
  • Inaugural Visiting Professor, James E Rogers School of Law, Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy LL.M. Program, University of Arizona
  • Head of Australian Environmental and Planning Law Practice, Baker & McKenzie (1991-1993)
  • Admitted as a Barrister for 14 years (1977-1991).
  • Admitted and practiced as a Solicitor (1991-1997)
  • Partner, Craig & Ehrlich Solicitors (specialist environmental law firm) 1993-1996
  • National and international consultant in Environmental policy, planning and Indigenous Peoples Law and Policy (1984- ongoing)

Major Research Grants 

  • Chief Investigator, Land and Water Grant (2006-2007) on An Agreement-based Approach to Customary Law Governance in Water Resource Management
  • Chief Investigator, Christensen Fund Grant (2005-2007) on Indigenous Governance of Natural Resources within Melanesia: A Project to Develop Legal Capacity-Building, Strengthening Community-Based Institutions, Customary Laws And Environmental Management Approaches.
  • Co-researcher in 4 projects awarded funding by the Desert Knowledge Co-operative Research Centre in 2004 and 2005.

Waterkeepers Alliance

Together with Professor Michael Jeffery, Donna led a university-wide UWS initiative for a Hawkesbury River Waterkeeper to be accredited by Waterkeepers Alliance International under the auspices of a newly formed community NGO - the Hawkesbury Environmental Network. UWS (with NSW TAFE –Western Sydney Institute) in February 2011 became the first tertiary institutions in Australia to support a University – community based Waterkeepers Alliance partnership. Both Michael and Donna together with emeritus Professor Shelley Burgin received recognition for their efforts as recipients of 2011 Vice-Chancellor Excellence Awards for Excellence in University Sustainability.

PhD Supervision

Donna is highly sought after as a postgraduate research supervisor. She is currently Principal Supervisor or Co-Supervisor for 9 UWS PhD candidates (most from overseas and on full scholarships). Completions have been on time and with few or no corrections. Topics include Co-management of protected areas, recognition of customary law in Kenyan national water law, role of the Supreme Court of India in facilitating climate change adaptation and governance of water resources in the Mekong Delta.


Advisor to the National Cultural Flows Planning and Research Committee of the Murray Darling Basin Authority (2011)

Foundation Member of the Interim Board of the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) that recommended structure and role of permanent EPA (2006-2007)

Member of the Northern Territory EPA (3 year appointment commencing 2008, reappointed 2011)

Convener of Circle of Friends: Call of the Earth Circle: An International Indigenous Peoples Initiative on Intellectual Property Policy, substantially funded by the Rockerfeller Foundation

Member of Advisory Board of International Training Centre of Indigenous Peoples (ITCIP), substantially funded by the Ford Foundation

Regional Governor, International Council on Environmental Law (ICEL) (1994-2002, 2007- 2008), Vice-Chair (Oceana) of the Commission on Environmental Law of the World Conservation Union (IUCN) for the maximum two terms (1994-2001)

Foundation Convener and Co-Convener with an indigenous lawyer) of IUCN CEL Specialist Group on Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Law (2000-2004)

Foundation Member of Governing Board of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law (2006-2007)

Member of Editorial Board of the Australian Indigenous Law Reporter

Associate Editor Macquarie University Journal of Comparative and International Environmental Law (2008)

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Nettheim,G, Meyers,G and Craig,D Indigenous Peoples and Governance Structures: A Comparative Analysis of Land and Resource Management Rights, Aboriginal Studies Press, Canberra, 2002

Craig,D, Robinson,N and Koh,KL (eds), Capacity Building for Environmental Law in the Asian and Pacific Region ; Approaches and Resources (Two Volumes), Asian Development Bank, Manilla,2002.

Chapters in Books

Craig D. Jeffery M. “Legal pluralism – notions of standing and legal process constraining assessment”, in Sustainability Assessment: Pluralism, Practice and Progress, eds. Alan J. Bond, Angus Morrison-Saunders, Routledge, c. 6 (accepted for publication, 2011

“Application of Environmental Conflict Resolution to Public Interest Issues in Water Disputes”, (with Michael Jeffery), International Journal of Rural Law and Policy, vol 2011 Special Edition, pp 1-13 

“The Recognition and Enforcement of Indigenous Customary Law in Environmental Regimes and Natural Resource Management (with Michael Jeffery) in Compliance and Enforcement in Environmental Law, Lee Paddock, Du Qun, Louis Kotze, David Markell, Kenneth Markowitz, Durwood Zaelke, Edward Elgar Cheltenham, UK; Northhampton, MA, USA, (2011), pp 535-571

“Social Licence Issues in Developing Economies (with Michael Jeffery) in Defending the Social Licence of Farming, Jacqueline Williams, Paul Martin, CSIRO, (2011) Collingwood, Victoria, at pp 57-68,

Craig, D.“Implementing Sustainable Development in the Arctic: What Principles Should Guide Environmental Governance in Traditional Areas of Indigenous Peoples Facing the Impacts of Climate Change”, in Yearbook of Polar Law, eds. G. Alfredsson, T. Koivurova and D. Leary, Brill Publishing, Leiden, the Netherlands and Boston, USA Vol. 1, (2009)

Craig,D and Jeffery,M “Non-lawyers and Legal Regimes: Public Participation for Ecologically Sustainable Development” in The Future of International Environmental Law, David Leary and Balakrishna Pisupati (eds), United Nations University Press, Tokyo, New York, Paris, 2010, Ch 5.

Environmental Law for Sustainablility, Hart Publishing, Oxford, 2006, pp 195-226

Craig, D, “Biological Resources, Intellectual Property Rights and International Human Rights: Impacts on Indigenous and Local Communities,” Chapter in Intellectual Property and Biological Resources: Perspectives on Contemporary Issues, Marshall Cavendish International Academic Publishing, Singapore, 2004.

Craig, D, (with Jeffery.M) "Wildlife Management in Australia: Different Perspectives on Indigenous Participation", Revista de Direito Ambiental Ano 9, n. 35, julho-setembro de 2004, Instituto "O Direito por um Planeta Verde at pp. 217 - 237.

Craig,D,"Aboriginal Joint Management of Australian National Parks: Ulura-Kata Tjuta" with Ros Sultan and Helen Ross, Chapter in Indigenous Peoples and Strategies for Sustainability: Case Studies, IUCN, Gland, Switzerland, 1997.

Environmental Outlook - Law and Policy, Federation Press, Sydney 1994.

Craig,D, "Conserving Biodiversity: The Legal and Institutional Issues" and "Implementing the Convention on Biological Diversity: Indigenous Peoples Issues", two Chapters in Implementing Biodiversity Conservation in the Asia Pacific Region, Asia Development Bank, Manilla, Philippines, 1995.

Craig,D, "Implications of Indigenous Rights and Customary Laws on the Development of Environmental Law for Sustainable Development" Chapter in Environmental Law and Sustainable Development (with Ponce-Nava,D), United Nations Environment Program, Nairobi, 1995.

Craig, D,"Aboriginal Interests and Perspectives", Chapter in Resolution of Conflict in Australian Water Management, Australian National University, Canberra, 1991.

Craig, D, "Environmental Law and Aboriginal Rights, Legal Framework for Aboriginal Joint Management of Australian National Parks", Chapter in Aboriginal Involvement in Parks and Protected Areas, Birchhead et al (editors), Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies, Canberra, 1992

Craig,D, "Social and Cultural Dimensions of Human Rights and Environment", Chapter in Human Rights and Environmental Protection - The Vital Link, Environmental Defenders Office, Sydney, 1992

Published Monographs and Published Reports

Craig,D, Rea, N, Hancock,D., Gipey, C., An Agreement-Based Approach to Customary Law Governance in Water Resource Management, Land and Water Australia, Canberra,, 2009.


Craig,D and Gachenga,E, “The Recognition of Indigenous Customary Law in Water Resource Management” (2010) 20 Water Law:1-7

Craig,D, “Integrating Sustainable Development into Global Institutions: Reforming the United Nations” (with Jeffery,M), Chinese Journal of Population, Resources and Environment, (2009) Vol. 7, No. 4.

Craig, D “Ethical Relationships for Biodiversity Research and Benefit Sharing with Indigenous Peoples” MqJICEL (2005) Vol.2:30-74

Craig, D.G, “Recognising Indigenous Rights Through Co-Management Regimes: Canadian and Australian Experiences” New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law Vol 6, 2002: 199-255.

Craig,D, “Native Title and Environmental Planning; Indigenous Land Use Agreements"; Environmental and Planning Law Journal Vol 17, No 5, 2000:440-452.

Craig,D and Jull,P, “Reflections on Regional Agreements: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow” (with Peter Jull), Indigenous Law Reporter, Vol 2, No. 4, 1997: 475-495.

Craig,D, Boer,B and Richardson,B, "Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Management: A Review of Canadian Regional Agreements and their Potential Application to Australia: Part I" (Co-author with Ben Boer and Benjamin Richardson) (1994) Vol II No 4 Environmental and Planning Law Journal 320-343

Craig,D, Boer,B and Richardson,B, "Indigenous Peoples and Environmental Management: A Review of Canadian Regional Agreements and their Potential Application to Australia: Part 2" (Co-author with Ben Boer and Benjamin Richardson) (1994) Vol II No 5 Environmental and Planning Law Journal 357-382.

"Audits and the Law in Australia", Significant Speeches, Winter, 1993.

"Social Impact Assessment: Politically Oriented Approaches and Applications" (1990) Vol 10 Nos 1-2 Environmental Impact Assessment Review 29-58.

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