Nicholas A. Robinson named University Professor at Pace University

16 April 2009 | News story

Founder of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law is named University Professor at Pace University

Nicholas A. Robinson, an internationally-recognized architect of international environmental law, a founder of the highly-ranked environmental law program at the Pace University Law School, and an innovator in training thousands of environmental lawyers around the world, has been appointed University Professor at Pace University.

Robinson is the first university-wide professor in the history of Pace, a private university that educates nearly 13,000 undergraduate and graduate students. He currently is Gilbert & Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law at Pace Law School.

Pace’s Provost, Geoffrey Brackett, who made the announcement, said: “Nicholas Robinson is one of the world’s most distinguished public intellectuals. His brilliant contributions to establishing global environmental law are well known. This appointment, which recognizes and strengthens his worldwide role as a catalyst for environmental thinking, will help his effectiveness in training environmental lawyers and make him a valuable colleague for faculty members across many disciplines.”

Environmental law has emerged from being a new subfield of law into a maturing framework of stewardship that restores and tries to maintain ecosystem services, safe drinking water, and healthy air,” Robinson explains.

“As University Professor, my research and lecturing will focus, with some urgency, on the changes that climate change requires of us all,” he reveals. “The challenges posed by climate change are undermining our accomplishments in sustainable development and will demand new reforms. As our society retools our energy regimes and restructures our coast lines to adapt to sea levels much higher that we have today, it will rethink how environmental law functions.”

A graduate of Brown University, and of Columbia Law School, immediately after the first Earth Year in 1969 Robinson served on the first legal advisory committee to the President's Council on Environmental Quality, advising on implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act. Early in his career he also drafted New York State’s Tidal Wetlands Act and Freshwater Wetlands Act. In the administration of New York Governor Mario Cuomo he served as General Counsel of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, where he authored the state’s Wild Bird Law.

During the Cold War with the USSR, he was appointed by five US presidents as a delegate to the USA-USSR environmental law negotiations, learning Russian and working out agreements on such matters as exchanging information on legislation for environmental protection, managing natural resources, and assessing environmental impacts. He played a key role in creating the UN Charter for Nature.

Robinson has long been a leader of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, an organization headquartered in Switzerland with members including 75 countries, 106 governmental agencies, and over 850 non-governmental organizations. In 2003 he founded the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, a consortium that now includes more than 100 universities around the world that have environmental law programs. It is the first learned society ever established in environmental law.

Robinson’s current scholarship includes completing new casebooks on The Law of Climate Change and Cultural Heritage Law, expanding his multi-volume treatise on Comparative Environmental Law and Regulation to include chapters on most of the world’s nations, and finishing his study on Environmental Policy and Law in Russia.

Bees and biosphere
One of Robinson’s new responsibilities will be to deliver communiqués on the environment and how higher education can address it. He will present the first, titled “Of Bees and the Biosphere: Climate Change and Us” as part of the University’s extensive Earth Month activities on Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22 at 11:30 pm at Pace’s Pleasantville campus.
 

The theme Robinson’s talk will focus on the global crisis in the loss of biodiversity, symbolized by widespread declines in honey bees across the US, and the global crisis in climate change, symbolized by sea level rises in New York Sate and around the world.