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In the immediate aftermath of the Rio+20 international discussions revisiting the Rio Earth Summit of 1992 and in the year also marking the 40th anniversary of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment, the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law held its tenth annual colloquium on the theme “Global Environmental Law at a Crossroads.” The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law, Baltimore, Maryland, hosted the colloquium and associated workshops from July 1-5.

Panellists in the opening plenary session on the Rio + 20 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development included Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin of the High Court of Brazil; Amy Fraenkel, UNEP’s Regional Director for North America, and Scott Fulton, General Counsel of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Nicholas A. Robinson of Pace University and Jacob Scherr of the Natural Resources Defense Council provided further insights into the aspirations and accomplishments of the Rio meetings with particular reference to conference statements including “The Future We Want” and the Rio+20 Declaration on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability.”

Professor Edith Brown Weiss of Georgetown Law School gave the distinguished Fedder Lecture in which she highlighted “kaleidoscopic” transformation in the sources and processes of environmental law-making and governance that now include voluntary and self-regulatory initiatives alongside international, national and local government measures. In his welcoming remarks to colloquium participants, Joel Fedder underscored the importance of environmental research and advocacy.

In a special plenary session on access to justice at the University of Maryland and at a post-colloquium forum on environmental justice and information hosted in Washington by the World Bank, Academy members commemorated the exceptional career of the late Professor Svitlana Kravchenko.

The colloquium was attended by about 175 environmental law scholars drawn from universities in Africa; Europe; North America; Central and Latin America; Asia; Australia and New Zealand, as well as government officials, NGO representatives and independent experts. They discussed and debated a broad range of legal, scientific and policy issues relating to environmental governance with reference to climate change, oceans, ecosystem services, the challenges of environmental enforcement on water, energy and natural resources, among other specialized themes.

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law represents an international network of over one hundred and fifty institutions teaching and pursuing research in environmental law. The annual conference provides an opportunity for environmental law researchers from around the world to discuss key challenges on the environmental law agenda and to deliberate on the formulation of the Academy’s programme of research and teaching. The latter, as reported at the annual general meeting by the Chair, Professor Rob Fowler, includes instructional training initiatives underway or proposed in China, India, Indonesia and Colombia.

The Academy recognized outstanding contributions to environmental law scholarship with honours going to Professors Antonio Benjamin (University of Texas School of Law), Benjamin J. Richardson (University of British Columbia) and Margaret Young (University of Melbourne).

The IUCN Academy’s 2013 conference “He Tapuwae: Footprints on the Land” will be hosted in New Zealand by the University of Waikato in collaboration with the University of New England, June 24-28.

For further information on the Academy, its programmes, and its publications, see www.iucnael.org or contact the Secretariat at the Faculty of Law, University of Ottawa at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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