Report on the 8th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law in Ghent by Prof. Victor Tafur

A Brief Report on the 8th Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law in Ghent, Belgium, by Prof. Victor Tafur

During September 13-17, 2010, I visited the charming City of Ghent, in the Flemish region of Belgium, to participate in this year’s Colloquium of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, which was held in Europe for the first time ever. The Academy, founded in New York in 2002, is an organization of more than 140 universities worldwide that have substantial environmental law programs. The Academy is headquartered at the University of Ottawa, Canada. For more information see www.iucnael.org.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) endorsed the idea of an Academy of Environmental Law in 2003, at the First Colloquium in Shangai, China. Founded in 1948, IUCN is the world’s oldest and largest global environmental network. It brings governments, international organizations, NGOs, local communities and private enterprises together to engage in research and field projects that will develop solutions to the most pressing environmental challenges. For more information see www.iucn.org.

This year the Academy’s Colloquium discussed “Linkages Between Biodiversity and Climate Change.” I attended as Assistant Visiting Professor of Environmental Law at Bard’s Center for Environmental Policy, as Adjunct Faculty at Pace Law School—a member of the Academy—, and as a member of the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law, which I joined in December 2009.

On Monday, 13 September, before the Colloquium, there was a Workshop on “Human Rights and Environmental Protection: Status Quo and Future Needs.” The main topics discussed were: “Constitutional Rights to Environmental Protection; Human Rights and Protection from Pollution; and, Human Rights and Conservation of Natural Resources.” These topics were discussed further during various panel discussions in the Colloquium that followed.

During the Colloquium, 14-16 September, the main topics linking biodiversity and climate change, both in the plenary sessions and the panels discussions, were: (1) Protected Areas; (2) Land Use Planning; (3) Wetlands; (4) Poverty; (5) Ethics and Justice; (6) Energy; (7) Bioenergy, were I presented my paper; (8) Indigenous Peoples; (9) Forests; (10) Protection of Species; (11) Agriculture; (12) National Governance; and (13) Payment for Ecosystem Services. In particular, I followed the latter with great interest. The panels discussed developments in the field of PES, presenting cases and legislation from many countries and regions, including Mexico, Ecuador, the European Union, Africa and Australia. The Academy will post the presentations in the website (www.iucnael.org), so you can view or download the presentations of your interest.

The Colloquium’s honoree and distinguished speaker was Professor Charles Okidi, University of Nairobi, Director of the Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law and Policy, Kenya.  He gave a very impressive presentation on the dangers posed to biodiversity and the peoples and the ecology of the planet.  One unique feature this year was the inclusion of students from around the world making presentations on many of the panels.

If you have any questions on the Academy or the Colloquium please do not hesitate to contact me.

Victor Tafur

Office: (845) 758-7302
Email: tafur@bard.edu

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