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Posted by Robert Percival

Earlier this month more than 300 professors and graduate students throughout the world participated in the first virtual colloquium of the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature) Academy of Environmental Law.  The Academy is a consortium of educators from 214 academic institutions in 60 countries dedicated to improving the teaching, development and implementation of environmental law…

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Pace University’s Elisabeth Haub School of Law Dean Emeritus Richard Ottinger has been recognized by the American Bar Association for his leadership in environmental policy. The ABA’s Section of Environment, Energy and Resources presented Ottinger with its 2017 Award for Distinguished Achievement in Environmental Law and Policy at its annual meeting on August 13.

Ottinger, who served as dean of Pace’s Law School from 1994 through 1999, was praised as a trailblazer whose work on behalf of the environment has spanned more than 50 years, and encompassed key milestones in the protection of the Hudson River and the Long Island Sound, as well as energy regulation. Dean Ottinger has been a supporter and contributor to the Academy for many years and, for those of you who attended the closing plenary at this year’s Colloquium, David Hodas featured one of his many career accomplishments in his presentation:  The Remarkable Dick Ottinger Sustainable Energy Story. A well-deserved award for a remarkable Academy scholar.

The University of Cebu cordially invites you to the 15th Annual Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law. This event will be held in Cebu City, Philippines, on May 29th-June 2nd, 2017.

The Philippines is known as one of 17 countries with the highest biodiversity, with an estimated 81 percent of the globally important land-based biodiversity areas in forest habitats. With its rich biodiversity, the Philippines faces a bigger challenge of protecting its natural resources on a daily basis. Despite this, there are emerging stories of legal reforms to protect biodiversity such as the landmark Oposa ruling. The Supreme Court has further set up environmental courts and issued the rules of procedure for environmental cases. Important environmental actions as well as judicial reforms are now in place.

The third in-country Training the Teachers (TTT) program for 2016 delivered in Cebu City, the Philippines, from 22-26 August 2016

2017 Train-the-Trainers Program

The IUCN Academy has entered into a Technical Assistance Implementation Agreement with the Asian Development Bank to conduct three 2017 in-country Train-the-Trainers (TTT) courses together with a Roundtable for the regional environmental law scholars in Asia who participated in one of the previous TTT courses conducted by the ADB and the Academy. The three training courses will be held in Chiang Mai, Thailand (June 19-23); Phnom Penh, Cambodia (August 21-25) and Yangon, Myanmar (October 23-28) respectively. The Roundtable will be held at the 2017 Colloquium in Cebu, Philippines (May 29-30).

The IUCN Academy would like to thank the Asian Development Bank for its continuing support of the Academy and the Train-the-Training Program and its support and participation in the 2017 Cebu Colloquium. In addition, the Academy is deeply grateful to Rob Fowler and Winnie Carruth for their hard work in securing funding and their commitment to creating and managing numerous outstanding TTT courses. Without their work and leadership, the vital outreach and capacity building opportunity the TTT provides would not be possible.

The speech by our Distinguished Speaker, Hilario Davide, Jr. (Former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines) at the IUCN Academy's 13th Annual Colloquium held in Jakarta, Indonesia is now available. Click here

The Environment in Court

Environmental protection in national and international courts, tribunals, and compliance mechanisms

Call for Abstracts

PluriCourts, Center of Excellence for the Study of the Legitimacy of International Courts and Tribunals at the University of Oslo, will host the 14th Annual Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, 20-25 June 2016.

We are currently inviting abstract submissions for presentations at the 2016 Oslo Colloquium by 15 January 2016.

The theme of the Colloquium is “The Environment in Court - Environmental protection in national and international courts, tribunals, and compliance mechanisms”. This broad topic seeks to address procedural and substantive aspects of environmental adjudication, both in national, regional and international courts, tribunals as well as non-compliance mechanisms of multilateral environmental treaties. In the context of the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs), Principle 10 of the Rio Declaration as well as the Aarhus Convention, the idea of strengthening of an environmental rule of law through access to justice has gathered considerable momentum

The main questions to be explored by this colloquium relate to what the role is, should be and could be for the judiciary in promoting environmentally sustainable development? What progresses and advances have been made in protecting the environment through courts and which obstacles exist to enhancing effective environmental adjudication? The colloquium attempts to address these issues along various, crossing “axes”: national and international adjudication, procedural and substantive legal issues, comparisons of different legal systems, and the relationships between policy and law, input and outcome, lex lata and lex ferenda, law and ethics, effectiveness and equity.

This Colloquium takes litigation of environmental disputes (and disputes with environmental aspects) before courts as a starting point for discussions. Its ultimate goal is to deliberate the effectiveness and legitimacy of existing national and international adjudication as well as to discuss further feasible and effective avenues for dealing with environmental disputes.

Abstracts are invited to focus on the Colloquium theme and to address one of the following seven subject clusters (the topics are indicating particular interest areas, but are not exhaustive):

1. General questions of legitimacy

  • Contribution of courts to the development and implementation of environmental law
  • Role of international environmental law in international and national courts
  • Feasibility of an environmental rule of law in light of SDG 16 
  • Need for more/less judicialization in the environmental field
  • Legitimacy and effectiveness of non-compliance mechanisms in MEAs

2. Procedural and formal issues

  • Should environmental courts be part of an administrative, civil or criminal court system?
  • Which procedural and/or substantive issues work in favour of environmental cases – and which hamper courts’ effectiveness in dealing with such cases?
  • Do judges have sufficient competence with regard to the nature (e.g. complexity, uncertainty) of environmental law cases?
  • Public interest environmental litigation in national and/or international courts

3. Comparisons

3.1. Between different legal systems:

  • Could a significant difference be drawn between courts in developed and developing countries dealing with environmental disputes?
  • Which lessons can be learned from different parts of the world?

3.2. Between national and international law:

  • Could domestic remedies be taken as a model for international adjudication?  
  • Can domestic courts “learn” from international courts? What is the influence of international courts with regard to national environmental laws?

3.3. Between different international courts/tribunals:

  • What can be learned from other bodies of law for which specialized adjudicatory bodies have been created?

4. Cross-cutting topic areas

  • The legitimate role(s) of human rights courts in environmental disputes
  • Protection of the environment and the (overdrawn) risk of fragmentation
  • Business and the environment in Court: corporate freedoms, enhanced State control of private actors, free trade interests and environmental protection
  • Trade, biosecurity and exhaustible natural resources in Court
  • Oceans and the environment in Court: adjudicatory regulation of fisheries and underwater mineral and biogenetic resources

 5. Protection of a “Wider” Environment

  • Natural and anthropogenic disasters in Court: protection and recovery of the environment, including the atmosphere & climate change
  • Culture and environment in Court: including indigenous cultures, mixed cultures and the cultures of law
  • Peace and the environment in Court
  • Environment and development in Court
  • Environmental adjudication between law and policy and ethics

6. Lessons learned

  • Lessons learned from environmental litigation in domestic legal systems
  • The role and effectiveness of non-compliance mechanisms in MEAs

7. How to move ahead?

  • The feasibility, possible added-value or backslashes of an international environmental court
  • Suggestions for increasing the effectiveness of environmental adjudication

Instructions for the Submission of Abstracts

  • Abstracts and papers must be written in English, complete with title, author(s)’s name(s), and institutional affiliation.
  • Abstracts should contain the aim of the paper, main points and a brief conclusion (400 words, maximum).
  • Please include 3-5 keywords, separated by commas.
  • Abstracts should not contain tables, graphs, drawings, etc.


  • Abstract should be submitted by 15 January 2016 online at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

  • Abstracts will be reviewed on a rolling basis, as received, with a final decision to be provided by 15 March 2016.
  • After acceptance of the abstract, Colloquium presenters are encouraged to submit papers by 30 April 2016.
  • The Academy will publish an edited and peer-reviewed collection of selected papers following the colloquium.

Contact: Professor Dr. Christina Voigt, University of Oslo, PluriCourts coordinator, environmental law (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.)