The Tenth Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law was held at the University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law from July 1-5. On the morning of July 1 a special pre-Colloquium Workshop on Environmental Law Clinics was held. It opened with a film by Global Environmental Justice Fellow Zoe Fullem that summarized the 2007 Conference on Globalizing Clinic Education to Protect Public Health and the Environment, which gave rise to this website. Much of that material will be archived in the near future in favor of clips from the 2012 Colloquium. Maria Marquez i Banque from the Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Catalonia, WIll Amos from the University of Ottawa, and Kim Diana Connoly from SUNY-Buffalo then discussed various global models of environmental law clinics. They announced an initiative to build a global network linking environmental law clinics around the world to facilitate information exchange between them. Robert Kuehn from Washington University then presented a comprehensive history of efforts to apply political pressure to curb the activities of environmental law clinics, starting with the University of Oregon in the early 1970s. Kuehn had been the director of the Tulane Environmental Law Clinic when the Louisiana Supreme Court, acting at the behest of business interests, sharply curtailed the clinic’s ability to represent clients. Jane Barrett, DIrector of Maryland’s Environmental Law Clinic, then outlined recent efforts to apply political pressure in response to the clinic’s lawsuit against Perdue Inc. for improper management of chicken waste.
On Sunday afternoon the Colloquium opened with a Bullpen Party at Camden Yards prior to the baseball game between the Baltimore Orioles and Cleveland Indians. The Oriole Bird made an appearance at the party and posed for photos with many of the Colloquium participants. The game that followed - a 6-2 victory for Cleveland - was less memorable than the discovery that there was a continuous breeze cooling the very top row of seats in the Stadium, which provided some relief from the 100-degree temperatures - an instance of adaptation to climate change.
On Monday July 2 the opening plenary session of the Colloquium focused on what happened at Rio+20 and where do we go from here. Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Antonio Benjamin noted that the Rio+20 conference did result in the adoption of a consensus document that included many positive features. He was even more enthusiastic about the product of a separate conference of judges and attorneys general - the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability, held immediately prior to Rio+20, that reaffirmed the role of law in promoting sustainability. Jacob Scheer of NRDC noted that there were hundreds of voluntary commitments made at Rio, including pledges by major retailers to green their supply chains to prevent deforestation. EPA General Counsel Scott Fulton, UNEP Regional Director Amy Fraenkel, and Pace Professor Nick Robinson, agreed with the general consensus that there had been a shift away from primary emphasis on multilateral environmental treaties toward more diverse approaches that involve NGOs, businesses, and governments in local and regional initiatives.
Following a tour and dinner at the National Aquarium in the Inner Harbor, the Colloquium on Monday evening heard a keynote address on “Global Environmental Law at a Crossroads” from Professor Edie Brown Weiss of Georgetown. Dean Phoebe Haddon introduced Professor Weiss , who agreed that we have entered the “anthropocene” epoch because the vast scale of the impact of human activity on the planet. She noted the field of global law had become “kaleidoscopic” because of the growth of mixed public/private and local and regional initiatives.
Tuesday morning’s plenary session focused on environmental enforcement. The speakers included Professor Elizabeth Kirk from the University of Dundee, Nova Southeastern University Professor Joel Mintz, George Washington Professor Lee Paddock, Boalt Visiting Professor Alex Wang, and Steve Wolfson from EPA’s International Environmental Law Practice Group. They focused on how to help regulatory agencies respond to change, lessons from past enforcement experience, compliance incentives, and enforcement policies in China and the U.S.
On Tuesday evening the Colloquium hosted an International FIlm Festival. Five student films from Brazil, China, and the United States were shown. They included topics such as littering in Brazil, recycling in Sao Paulo, the ban on free distribution of plastic bags in China, and the importance of maintaining sustainable stocks of menhaden. “Celebrating Svitlana,” a film made in tribute to the late Svitlana Kravchenko, last year’s recipient of the senior scholarship prize at the Academy Colloquium who died suddenly earlier this year, also was shown. Following the showing of the films, nearly 200 Colloquium participants gathered for an international wine tasting that featured more than 75 wines from around the world. Maryland’s student choral group “Legally Sound” performed at the winetasting, which inspired many of the participants spontaneously to perform their national songs.
Wednesday morning’s plenary session focused on access to information and public participation. It was a tribute to the work of Svitlana Kravchenko and participants include her husband Professor John Bonine of Oregon, Professor Jan Jans of the University of Gronigen, and Professor Tseming Yang, who has just joined the Santa Clara law faculty. A closing plenary moderated by Professor Jamie Bendickson from the University of Ottawa summarized themes from the various Colloquium sessions. On Wednesday evening a group of 150 Colloquium participants went on a dinner cruise of Baltimore harbor to eat blue crabs (many for the first time) and to watch the Fourth of Juy fireworks display. This was followed by dancing on the boat.
The Colloquium ended on Thursday with a morning field trip to the Patuxent National WIldlife Research Refuge on the site of a former World War I munitions testing range. This was followed by a trip to the World Bank on Thursday afternoon for a special post-Colloquium program on Environmental Justice, Access to Information, and Public Participation. Assistant Attorney General Ignacia Moreno gave the keynote address at this program. I participated in a panel discussion following presentations by Professor John Bonine and Justice Antonio Benjamin.
Altogether more than 250 people participated in the Colloquium from nearly 100 universities in more than 30 countries. Most of the abstracts of the Colloquium presentations are available online at: http://digitalcommons.law.umaryland.edu/gelc. Video and conference papers will be included in this repository soon.