Thoughts From Participants

Words From Participants

Thoughts from the IUCN WCEL Biodiversity Law Specialist Group Deputy Chair, Professor Michelle Lim:

At our visit to the Oslo City Hall, the local government representative described the conference program as 'intense'. What a fitting choice of words. Intense indeed! Intense in ideas, exchange and intellectual fellowship!! It has been a true privilege to participate in this environmental law gathering at the cutting-edge of legal and policy understanding. I loved the thought and thoughtfulness that went into the design of the program. The richness of discussions and the diversity of people and experience was a true joy to be a part of. Congratulations and sincere thanks to Prof. Christina Voigt and Roberto Coll and the fantastic team that has enabled the exploration of transformative legal pathways to a thriving multispecies planet.

Thoughts from a WCEL member Mr Donald Kaniaru:

The meeting was well organized and really intense.  The young, with more future, as opposed to us with more past, was heart-warming. It seemed like an outstanding and generous handover to the youth. I hope the youth did not miss the tips shared so consistently in the different presentations.

 In my concluding remarks, I stressed the need and determination of the youth to prepare thoroughly, and only intervene timeously and consistently. Every so often some intervene hurriedly and hence prematurely, which should be avoided at all costs.

I enjoyed a free discussion with the youth, a good many winding up post graduate studies abroad, and I was truly encouraged. I see them committed to build on a past that is fairly mature and ready to shape up into the future of their dreams.

Thoughts from a WCEL member Mr Danilo BARBOSA GARRIDO ALVES:

Participating in the 3rd WCEL International Environmental Law Conference was very special for me, as in 2016, during the first iteration, I was working behind the scenes. As an early career professional, having the opportunity to share my ideas and engage with both practitioners and academics in my field was unparalleled and quite meaningful. More specifically, seeing how seriously the legal counsel of various development banks addressed my critiques on their socio-environmental policies, and how the points I raised resonated with those who were present, showed to me that there is demand for the work that I am doing. As a participant, I also learned much during the 4 days of the conference - especially in relation to cutting-edge concepts that I was not entirely familiar with, such as nature-based solutions. It was also a great opportunity to learn more about the work of the various WCEL Commissions and discover how I could contribute more to the organization.

Thoughts from the IUCN WCEL Environmental Security and Conflict Law Specialist Group Chair, Professor Karen Hulme:

At the recent Third WCEL International Environmental Law Conference in Oslo, on ‘The Transformative Power of Law: Addressing Global Environmental Challenges’, we heard a number of excellent papers on the topic of armed conflict and environmental damage. Of course, armed conflict is inherently destructive of nature, from the damage caused by bombs and the targeting of industrial facilities that leach toxic chemicals into rivers and soils, to the destruction caused by heavy military vehicles as they tear across the landscape. Yet, during such times, the law is not silent. Indeed, the law protecting the environment in relation to armed conflict has recently been the subject of an comprehensive review by the UN’s International Law Commission (ILC) – the resulting legal tools have become known as the PERAC Draft Principles. As Ambassador Fife of Norway explained in his plenary, the ILC’s work has transformed the legal landscape in this area, creating a set of principles that have a truly transformative, temporal approach – notably, analyzing the law applicable before the outbreak of conflict (i.e. peacetime), during conflict and post conflict. 

Through this temporal approach the value of other areas of law, such as environmental law and human rights law, are being explored for their value in protecting the wartime environment. The Draft Principles also advance key issues that have often been missing from the debates or laws – such as the impact of armed conflict on indigenous peoples and their resource access rights, and the long-lasting environmental legacy of toxic or hazardous remnants of war. And they recognize gaps in the law too, including the need to further refine issues of liability for environmental harm in warfare, including by corporate actors and armed groups. These topics were among those discussed in a parallel session organised by the Specialist Group on Environmental Security and Conflict Law. Thus, we urge the General Assembly to seize the momentum gained in the ILC’s work to date and adopt the Draft Principles later this month. And we urge others to use the Draft Principles in their work, disseminate them and develop them further to ensure that they become – as Ambassador Fife suggested, the ‘building material’ for future legal interpretations in this area.