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At the Seventh Annual Colloquium at Wuhan University, China, the IUCN Academy and RIEL paid tribute to the memory of Professor Han Depei, a revered professor and the founder of environmental law in China.

At a special commemorative ceremony and tree-planting on November 2, 2009, the life and contributions of Professor Han Depei (1911-2009) were acknowledged on the opening day of the Seventh Annual Colloquium of the IUCN Academy. Professor Qin Tianbao of RIEL at Wuhan University and Professor Ben Boer of the University of Sydney and a visiting professor at Wuhan University shared in the tribute to Professor Han.

L to R: Xiao Yongping, Dean, School of Law, Wang Shuyi, Director RIEL, Wuhan University, Rob Fowler, Ben Boer, Yves Le Bouthillier

In remarks to more than 150 environmental law scholars from around the world, it was noted that Professor Han Depei was an environmental law scholar who enjoyed a worldwide influence. In addition to devoting himself to the study of environmental law, he laid the foundations for research and education in Chinese environmental law.

Professor Han Depei was a pioneer in establishing environmental law as an independent branch of law. He was one of the first people in China to recognize the importance of using legal instruments to prevent and control environmental problems. He was instrumental in establishing Wuhan University Research Institute of Environmental Law. RIEL was for many years the sole research institute in environmental law in China and Asia. He also established the Chinese Association of Environmental Law, whose purpose was to bring together all environmental law scholars and practitioners nation wide. His book, Textbook on Environmental Protection Law is the first and still the most important textbook in the field in China, and is now in its fifth edition.

His contribution to environmental law in China earned him numerous awards and titles, including the “Earth Prize” which is the highest and most honourable recognition for environmentalists in China.

The tree-planting in his honour took place just outside the Law School at Wuhan University, and was recognition by the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law of “the extraordinary contributions of this great scholar and teacher”

The Secretariat of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Academy of Environmental Law, hosted by the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa, has received an anonymous donation of $1 million which is being matched by the University of Ottawa.

This generous $2 million donation will support the operating expenses of the Secretariat which include administration as well as student assistants, communications, governance and collaboration with the IUCN. The funds will also support the advancement of capacity building in environmental law teaching and research with the IUCN Academy’s member institutions in developing countries which, in turn, contributes to the University of Ottawa’s international mission. Furthermore, the donation will fund an annual $15,000 scholarship named, “The Faculty of Law Scholarship in Environment and Sustainability,” and will be available to graduate students doing work in the field of environmental law or policy. Applicants from developing countries and member institutions will be given priority.

The IUCN Academy is a worldwide network of more than 110 universities from 35 countries and enables more than 400 environmental law professors and students to interact and exchange knowledge, experience and resources. Its Secretariat, which has been located at the Faculty of Law since 2006, coordinates all of the Academy’s activities. Director of the Secretariat, Prof. Yves Le Bouthillier, states, “The IUCN Academy plays a crucial role in connecting scholars and experts in preparing cutting-edge research on environmental law and policy issues. This generous donation will ensure that the Academy will continue to play this key role and is a significant step in building a more expansive global network.”

“The University of Ottawa is keenly aware of the significant role that the IUCN Academy plays in preparing the next generation of students and scholars—both locally and internationally—to positively influence the future development and implementation of improved environmental law and policy across the globe,” states President and Vice-Chancellor Allan Rock.

Sébastien Grammond, Dean of the Civil Law Section, notes, “The Secretariat has provided faculty members and students with numerous opportunities to take part in diverse research projects. This donation will open up many doors for the Academy, the University and the present course of environmental research in general.”

“We are extremely grateful to both the anonymous donor and the University of Ottawa,” adds Bruce Feldthusen, Dean of the Common Law Section. “Endowments like this make it possible for us to advance our strengths in environmental law and international law and to fulfill our social justice mission. We anticipate that this donation will inspire other donations from friends of the IUCN Academy.”

Rob Fowler, Chair of the Governing Board of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law and professor at the University of South Australia, reinforced the importance of this initial endowment by stating, “It provides an excellent springboard for other fundraising efforts on the principle that success breeds success. The ongoing financial and other forms of support provided to the Academy by the University of Ottawa deserve special mention and an acknowledgement by the members of the Academy.”

The announcement of this donation is taking place at the Seventh Annual Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law from November 1-5, 2009 in Wuhan, China. The colloquium is the IUCN Academy’s flagship event which attracts scholars from around the world. This year’s theme is “Environmental Governance and Sustainability.”