2011 Environmental Law Scholarship Awards

The Academy is most delighted to announce that Professor Svitlana Kravchenko of the University of Oregon in the U.S. received this year's Senior Scholar Prize and that Professor Louis Kotze of North West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, received the Junior Scholar Prize. These two awards were announced and presented by Professor Melissa Powers, co-chair of the Research Committee of the IUCN Academy, during the Academy's Ninth Colloquium held in Eastern Cape, South Africa on July 6, 2011.

The Academy's Scholar Prizes recognize excellence and creativity in scholarship produced during the five years preceding the award. In evaluating candidates' scholarship, the Prize Selection Committee considers the analytical rigor of the candidate's scholarship; originality and depth of the scholarship; the significance of the scholarship to international law; and the degree to which the candidates promote collaboration and capacity-building within environmental law education. The pool of candidates is created through a nomination process; any member of the Academy may nominate another member for the prize. Once a person has received a nomination, the Prize Selection Committee then solicits two confidential peer reviews of the nominee's qualifications and scholarship. The Prize Selection Committee then selects one junior prize winner (less than 10 years of teaching experience) and one senior prize winner (10 years or more teaching experience) based on the information contained in the nomination materials and the peer reviews. The selection process is quite competitive due to the caliber of environmental law scholars around the world.

Professor Svitlana Kravchenko

Svitlana Kravchenko, the Director of the LL.M program at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A., earned the Senior Scholar Prize. During the past five years, Dr. Kravchenko has published a number of articles and book chapters, and she co-authored a text book on human rights and the environment. Her reviewers described her scholarship on human rights and public participation as highly influential, dynamic, and original. Her work - both in scholarship and in practice - in assuring public participation in environmental decision making - also received considerable recognition, both because it adds important insight into environmental scholarship and because her work on the compliance committee of the Aarhus Convention helps protect actual rights of people affected by environmental decisions. Dr. Kravchenko is an active participant in many environmental law networks and has contributed greatly to the IUCN Academy's efforts to increase teaching and capacity-building in environmental law.

Professor Louis Kotze

Louis Kotze, Professor of Law at the Faculty of Law at North West University in Potchefstroom, South Africa, earned the Junior Scholar Prize. Professor Kotze has had a remarkable career. He became a full professor in 2009, only 7 years after he first received his LL.M, and he has only increased his contributions to environmental law since then. He has been an amazingly prolific scholar in the past five years. He published 14 articles in South African journals and 11 articles in international law journals, contributed at least 15 book chapters to various books, and edited or co-edited 6 books. Beyond his published work, Professor Kotze is an active participant in academic conferences and a dedicated contributor to international and national organizations dedicated to collaboration between environmental law scholars. He is currently a visiting scholar at the Max Planck Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, and has served as the lead researcher on a number of important national and international projects. Not only has he demonstrated an ability to produce an amazing quantity of work, he has also consistently demonstrated his ability to write intellectually rigorous and thought-provoking scholarship. One reviewer described Professor Kotze's scholarship as innovative, original, and ground-breaking. Another described Professor Kotze as "one of the most impressive, bright, prolific, and societally contributing young law academics" the reviewer has ever known. He is also an active contributor to the IUCN Academy.

Based on these snapshots of the prize winners' qualifications, the Prize Section Committee felt that these candidates were truly deserving of this year's Scholarship Prizes. All of us at the Academy congratulate Professor Kravchenko and Professor Kotze on their well-deserved recognition.

Professor Kotze received the award in person during the award ceremony.


Professor Kravchenko was unable to attend the colloquium but sent the following acceptance speech to the Committee which was read out by Professor Powers:


"Dear IUCN Academy of Environmental Law members,

I am deeply honored by your selection of me as the IUCN Academy Senior Scholar. I really cannot find words that are adequate to convey my thoughts on this occasion. I am truly surprised. And I deeply regret that I cannot be at the Colloquium to accept this honor in person.

For the past decade most of my scholarship has been in a foreign language and much of it has been published in an adopted country, not my native one. After a career of supervising Ph.D. students in Ukraine, I started a new program for LL.M. students in my adopted country, the United States. For me, this gave incredible, new inspiration -- in teaching lawyers from around the world and seeing them grow in the process. It was also a new kind of growth for me.

The honor of this award is particularly important to me in this context of change and growth. All of you who are immigrants will understand what it means to arrive once by airplane and then to arrive professionally at a later time. The IUCN Academy Senior Scholar award certainly helps me with that second arrival.


I hope you will forgive my absence from the Academy Colloquium this week. Two weeks ago I traveled to Ukraine to meet with members of Environment-People-Law, the public interest law firm that I established 17 years ago. I also went to visit my niece, who was in a horrible traffic accident while organizing meetings to help citizens along the Danube River develop a new strategy to confront environmental problems.

Then last week I was in Chisinau, Moldova, deeply involved in my role as Vice-Chair of the Compliance Committee at the Fourth Meeting of the Parties of the Aarhus Convention.

At the end of the Aarhus meeting, I had a difficult choice: professional or personal. I regret my absence from South Africa, but I am sure that all of you who are parents will understand the priority that I placed on visiting my daughter, who moved to Paris a few months ago from the United States to work in international arbitration at a major law firm.

I would like to say a few things about academic life, about youth, and about the Academy of Environmental Law.


This academic career is the most fun thing you can do with your life! Most of us cannot imagine a full life without writing and teaching. We want to shape the future through our scholarship and through our discussions with others, both young and old. We become more alive through our contact with the young, through our mentoring, and through our debates of ideas with each other. We become proud seeing our students' own growth and achievements, during and after their time with us.


To young scholars I want to offer a few words of advice:

  1. Follow your own dreams. Carve out your own view of environmental law and justice in our societies. Don't be limited by thinking from the past.
  2. Don't be limited by your own past work either. It may be interesting to keep drilling the same hole deeper and deeper, but there are other ideas to explore. I started by writing about psychology and environmental law when I was young. Then I taught and wrote about domestic environmental law in Ukraine for 25 years. But international law called to me, then human rights, then biodiversity and climate change. Next, who knows?
  3. Don't be limited by others. While still in Ukraine, I left the School of Law at L'viv National University and joined instead the Faculty of International Relations because my Dean did not believe in my international travel or my ambitions in a new field. If your department or university is constraining you, take charge of your own future. Grow your own wings.
  4. Even be willing to change your country, if it is for professional advancement or love.
  5. Complete your doctoral or masters dissertation. Don't procrastinate on it. It is your key to a golden future.


Finally, about the Academy. I love this institution. I have loved it since first hearing ideas about it from Nick Robinson and Ben Boer when I was a Vice Chair of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, meeting in Jordan in 2000 at the IUCN World Congress. I have loved it since those early planning meetings along the Hudson River in New York, and those first Colloquia in New York, Shanghai, and elsewhere. (The current one is only the second I have missed.)

Each of us may be tempted to view environmental law through a national focus. The Academy takes us out of that comfort zone. It helps us see both the commonalities and the differences among our laws, our scholarship, our societies. It makes us global academic citizens in a way that no environmental law institution ever did until this Academy was conceived and implemented.

We face a world of onrushing disaster, fueled by carbon and greed. We also face a world that still contains great beauty and that is populated by humans capable of great acts of generosity – both toward our fellow humans and toward the planet that we inherited from our parents and grandparents.

The Academy has a huge role to play in moving our societies away from carbon and greed and toward beauty and generosity. I salute all of you at this Colloquium and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for this incredible honor.


The Academy would like to take this opportunity to especially thank Professor Melissa Powers of Lewis & Clark School of Law, the co-chair of our Research Committee along with members of the Prize Selection Committee for their dedication and hard work throughout the selection process. The Research Committee is an integral part of the Academy and under the leadership of our co-chairs, the Committee has undertaken a wide range of activities to facilitate environmental law research among the members of the Academy.

The Scholar Prizes are awarded to candidates nominated by members of the Academy. A Call for Nominations for Scholar Prizes for 2012 will be emailed to all of our members later this year. The Academy hopes that many of our members will submit nominations for next year's scholarship prizes.