WCEL Steering Committee members Elizabeth Mrema (UN Environment, Kenya) and Deputy Chair Denise Antolini (University of Hawaii, US) keynoted a conference on September 5-6 held at Queen Mary University of London on Law and Environment in Small States. WCEL member Catherine Iorns (Victoria University of Wellington, NZ) was the lead program organizer for this conference hosted by the QMUL Centre for Small States.
The Law and Environment in Small States Conference covered critical topics for small states, including island nations and territories (defined as approximately 1.5 million or fewer inhabitants), including the disadvantages and advantages that come from their small size. Speakers focused on the role of small states in the evolving legal framework for climate change, threats to biodiversity, and protection of marine resources. The conference also addressed important process issues such as challenges for small states’ engagement in regional and international environmental law processes given their lack of resources, the difficulties of staffing delegations for major conferences and negotiations, and the length and expense of travel. On the positive size, the speakers noted the outsized influence of small states at Paris and in other negotiations, their unified voice through alliances, the urgency of their plight, as well as the opportunities for creative approaches to environmental law that are possible only in a small-state system.
by Denise Antolini
Deputy Chair, WCEL; Law professor and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, William S. Richardson School of Law, University of Hawaii, USA