This week was the first week of classes for the spring semester at Maryland. Visiting Fulbright scholar Emmanuel Kasimbazi from Makerere University in Uganda gave a terrific introductory lecture on environmental law in Africa to my Global Environmental Law seminar. He described how much of African environmental law has been based on customary law and how international agreements have played an important role in encouraging the recent development of environmental law in Africa. In 1995 Uganda adopted a National Environment Act that created the National Environmental Management Authority (NEMA), which is responsible for coordinating government environmental policies and reviewing environmental impact assessments.
More students registered for my Global Environmental Law seminar than can fit in the classroom so the class has a waiting list. At the first class session we found space for two extra students. One of the first class assignments will be for the students to complete country profiles that will be posted on this website.
On Monday I gave a three-hour presentation to water management officials from Beijing at the Institute for Global Chinese Affairs (IGCA) in College Park. My presentation focused on the laws protecting water resources in the United States with particular emphasis on the Safe Drinking Water Act. I opened my presentation with photos from my trip to Harbin, a Chinese city where the people revel in winter recreation on the frozen Songhua River, but where the tap water is not safe to drink even in the luxury hotels. I emphasized that by imposing uniform national standards to protect the quality of drinking water, the Safe Drinking Water Act seeks to ensure that wherever one travels in the U.S. water provided by public water supply systems will be safe to drink. The Chinese government is working to increase the supply of safe drinking water which is why the Beijing officials are visiting the United States to study our water management practices. During my presentation they seemed particularly interested in enforcement issues. While in the U.S. the Beijing officials are visiting federal, state and local environmental agencies and touring water supply and sewage treatment plants.
This was my first lecture at the IGCA, which is located on the College Park campus of the University of Maryland. The Institute runs training programs for Chinese government officials in a wide variety of fields. Information about them is available on their website at: http://www.international.umd.edu/igca/