Archive News

In March 2011, Professors Ben Boer and Rob Fowler of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law were in Wuhan, China, to lead a week-long training programme on the teaching of environmental law at the Research Institute of Environmental Law. Participants included approximately two dozen senior Chinese environmental law scholars who engaged in discussion of substantive environmental issues and explored questions of teaching methodology. Special thanks must also be extended to Vermont Law School for its support.

Although environmental law is now widely considered to be a core element of the legal education curriculum in a number of countries, the subject is either neglected or of marginal significance in many jurisdictions. (I would suggest not referring to any particular regions. Otherwise our Chinese, or for that matter, our Australian collegues, could be up in arms.) In addition, the intersections of environmental law with trade, human rights, economic policy, and, of course, the sciences, make it a particularly challenging field for teachers.

The Training the Teachers project is an initiative originating in the Academy’s Teaching and Capacity-Building Committee. The programme now comprises both a Basic and Advanced Course in teaching environmental law.

The Basic Course addresses the needs of scholars who are new to teaching environmental law. It provides an understanding of the scope and substance of environmental law accompanied by a demonstration of a wide range of teaching methodologies and approaches to student assessment. Upon completion, participants are expected to be in a position to design their own course with reference to the local context.

The Advanced Course seeks to prepare senior environmental law scholars in the developing world for the task of delivering the Basic Course to junior colleagues, and also provides an opportunity for participants to discuss cutting edge issues in environmental law with Academy trainers. For example, in Wuhan, sessions were held on regulation of offshore oil production activities and the outcomes of recent international negotiations on climate change and biodiversity protection.

In both courses, there is considerable emphasis upon techniques for classroom discussion and sophisticated teaching methodologies such as simulated negotiations, small-group activities, the use of a reflective journal and the contribution of field trips. The feed-back form scholars who participated in the Advanced Course at Wuhan indicated a high level of interest and engagement in the teaching methodology elements of the course. .

The Academy is currently pursuing funding to deliver its Training the Teachers program in collaboration with member institutions in China, Colombia, India, and Indonesia. Further opportunities for program implementation in Eastern Europe and in Africa are also currently being explored.

The role of local governments in Climate Change Law was the subject of a two-day international workshop held October 22-23, 2011 in Vancouver. The programme, convened by Professor Benjamin J. Richardson, Canada Research Chair at the University of British Columbia, contributed to the further development of Climate Law research by the IUCN Academy.

Twenty specialized law and policy researchers drawn from the ranks of nine Academy member institutions, as well as from local government and the NGO community, examined local climate law from a variety of perspectives. Political, policy and governance challenges were debated in order to better understand opportunities for and obstacles to improved local climate action. Presentations by Kathryn Harrison, a leading analyst of Canadian environmental policy, and by Scott Pasternak of the Toronto City Manager’s Office, underpinned discussion of multi-level governance in relation to climate change responses.

A second part of the workshop analyzed selected foreign examples to consider lessons for Canada and to highlight valuable precedents. Drawing on insights from South Africa, Australia, China, the European Union and the United States, participants sought to identify best practices, assess the choice and mix of policy tools for local climate action, and consider the relationship between climate law and broader policy goals to build environmentally sustainable communities.

Canadian researchers reported on domestic examples from Vancouver to Halifax, and reviewed the experience of international municipal networks for climate change action.

Proceedings from the Vancouver local climate law workshop will be incorporated into a book to be published by Edward Elgar in 2012, entitled Local Climate Change Law: Environmental Regulation in Cities and Other Localities.

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, an international network of approximately 150 environmental law teaching and research centres, has pursued research and teaching initiatives in climate law for several years. Distinctive Academy contributions include an international conference on Climate Law and Developing Countries (2008), publication of a collection of essays from that conference (Benjamin J. Richardson, Yves Le Bouthillier, Heather McLeod-Kilmurray and Stepan Wood eds. Climate Law and Developing Countries and the compilation of a set of university curriculum outlines or syllabi for Climate Law courses.

“Water and the Law: Towards Sustainability” was the theme of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law’s ninth annual conference held in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa from 3-7 July 2011, and hosted by a consortium of Universities including: North-West University; University of Cape Town, University of the Witwatersrand; and the University of KwaZulu-Natal.

Dr. Peter Ashton, an aquatic ecologist from the Natural Resources and Environment Programme of the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CISR), opened the conference with a keynote address outlining strategic water quality issues facing South Africa.

Prof Patricia Wouters, Director of the UNESCO Centre for Water Law, Policy and Science, at the University of Dundee, delivered the annual Distinguished Lecture on the role of the law in securing water sustainability. She highlighted the challenges of water availability, water access, and conflicts, emphasizing the concept of dynamic cooperation amongst nations as an innovative approach for addressing local and international challenges arising from management of shared fresh water resources.

The colloquium was attended by about 140 environmental law scholars drawn from universities in Africa; Europe; North America; Central and Latin America; Asia; Australia and New Zealand, as well as NGO representatives and independent experts. They discussed and debated a broad range of legal, scientific and policy issues relating to water management and governance. Key themes included the growing challenges of transboundary water resources and climate change impacts. The implications of water pollution from agricultural activity and mining, with particular reference to the African continent, were featured subjects of numerous panels and presentations. Legal considerations, notably the rapidly-evolving status of the right to water, water sovereignty and the importance of and integrated framework of water resources law to facilitate human uses alongside ecological imperatives were also extensively debated.

Justice Dennis Davis, from the Cape High Court, provided detailed insights into South Africa’s front-line experience with the progressive realization of a constitutional right to water with direct reference to vigorously contested litigation such as the prominent Mazibuko proceedings.

The IUCN Academy of Environmental Law represents an international network of over one hundred and fifty faculties teaching and pursuing research in environmental law, which are home to several hundred individual members. The annual conference provides an opportunity for environmental law researchers from around the world to convene for discussion of 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 in China with forthcoming developments proposed for India, Indonesia and Colombia.

The Academy publicly recognized distinguished contributions to environmental law scholarship with honours going to Professor Svitlana Kravchenko of the University of Oregon, United States, and Professor Louis Kotzé of North-West University in South Africa. In her remarks, Professor Kravchenko, whose extensive career encompasses experience in Ukraine, and in numerous international settings, underscored the importance of academic exchange at the international level: “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.” Michelle Lim, a Doctoral Student from Australia’s University of New England, received an award in the graduate student category.

The IUCN Academy’s 2012 meeting will be hosted by the University of Maryland, July 1-5.

For further information on the Academy, its programmes, and its publications, see 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.

Global Environmental Law at a Crossroads

The Tenth Colloquium of the IUCN Academy will be held at the University of Maryland School of Law, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.A. from July 1 to July 5. A Call for Abstracts will be issued shortly. Please reserve the dates for this special annual event of the Academy. Registration details of the Colloquium will follow soon.

Please also visit the website of the University of Maryland School of Law for more information.

Collaborative publication by the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Research Committee, Environmental Law Centre, Bonn and the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law.

Click here for PDF version.

Dear Members,

The editors would again like to invite all members to submit contributions for inclusion in the third issue of the IUCNAEL eJournal, which will be published in February 2012. As you are all hopefully now aware, we accept three main different forms of contributions: substantive articles on a specific theme; country reports on contemporary legal and policy developments; and book reviews. The full details regarding the length and nature of these contributions are available on the eJournal's website ( So too are the previous two issues of the eJournal which should give you a good idea of the nature and form of the different contributions. In summary:

  1. Substantive articles on a specific theme. The chosen theme for this issue is Innovations in Social Justice and Environmental Governance. During the past few decades, much attention has been paid to 'efficient' environmental protection, but at what social cost? Market instruments frequently empower the rich. Regulated access is often easier for those who are confident, informed and mobile. Even seemingly benign approaches, such as 'green investment', can have dire social consequences for certain sectors of the society. Innovations in environmental law may show the way towards improved environmental governance that simultaneously significantly improves the lot of the least advantaged in society. The editors are particularly interested in articles that demonstrate how environmental law can fulfill its traditional role in pioneering both environmental protection and social justice. Please note that the due date for the submission of substantive articles has been extended to 1 November 2011.
  2. Country reports. These reports should canvas recent interesting legal and policy developments in members' jurisdictions – preferably developments that have taken place in the past 6-12 months. Please note that the due date for the submission of country reports has been extended to 1 December 2011.
  3. Book Reviews. These book reviews should critical consider texts in the field of environmental law that have been published in the past 6-12 months. Please note that the due date for the submission of book reviews has been extended to 1 December 2011.

We look forward to receiving your contributions and should you have any queries please do not hesitate to contact us (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).

Keep well

Elizabeth Kirk and Sandy Paterson

Elizabeth A. Kirk
Senior Lecturer
School of Law
University of Dundee
Tel: 01382 384638
Fax: 01382 386737
e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Alexander Paterson
Associate Professor
Institute of Marine and Environmental Law
Faculty of Law
University of Cape Town
Tel: (021) 650 5644
Fax: (021) 650 5673
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


The International Union for Conservation of Nature Academy of Environmental Law (IUCN Academy) received the twelfth annual American Bar Association (ABA) Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy. The international achievement award was presented on August 7, 2011 at the ABA Annual Meeting in Toronto, Ontario.

IUCN_2011_copyThe award was established to honour significant achievements of institutions and individuals responsible for major contributions in the field of environmental law and policy. The international award recognizes outstanding accomplishments resulting in significant improvements in substance, understanding, or process of environmental laws and policies. “It’s hard to imagine a more encouraging endorsement of the early accomplishments of the IUCN Academy, “ said Jamie Benidickson, Professor, University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law and Director, IUCN Academy of Environmental Law. “The ABA award will energize collaborative efforts on the part of environmental law faculty in the developed and developing worlds to move the IUCN Academy’s research, teaching and policy initiatives to the next level.”

Membership of the IUCN Academy represents 149 law faculties and research centres teaching and pursuing research in environmental law in all regions of the world. The organization, with its Secretariat housed at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, has held environmental law conferences in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America and Australia focusing on a range of topics, notably climate change, biofuels, water, and policy development for protected areas.

The IUCN Academy was nominated due to its outstanding record of initiative and accomplishment in fostering collaboration, research, and learning in environmental law on an international stage. It was nominated by Alexandra Dunn, Assistant Dean, Environmental Law Program and Adjunct Professor, Pace University.

“This award by the ABA is a deeply-appreciated recognition for the efforts of the many people who have shared the vision of an international network to advance teaching and research in environmental law, including the members of the founding Board which was led by Professor Nick Robinson from 2003-2008, “ said Rob Fowler, Chair of the IUCN Academy, “To those who now serve on our Governing Board and various sub-committees voluntarily, to those at our host institution, the University of Ottawa, who have provided exceptional support to the Academy, and finally to our many enthusiastic members across the globe, this award serves as an inspiration to keep pursuing this shared vision. We have much that we still hope to achieve but we are deeply grateful for this recognition by the ABA of our efforts to this stage.”