By Holly Jonas, September 2016
The world’s oldest largest and most diverse environmental network – the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – held its 6th World Conservation Congress from 1-10 September 2016 in Honolulu, Hawai’i. During the Congress, the World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), the Environmental Law Centre and the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law organised a wide range of events focusing on the instrumental role of environmental law in the conservation of nature and natural resources.
One such event – entitled “Emerging Leaders and the Future of Environmental Law” – was hosted by the University of Hawai’i’s William S. Richardson School of Law and the IUCN WCEL Early Career Group on 2 September. This interactive event included presentations by 9 ‘emerging environmental law experts’ and a ‘speed dating’ idea incubator in which participants identified key challenges and potential ways forward for the future of environmental law.
As part of the round of presentations, Holly Jonas (Legal Innovation Programme Coordinator, Forever Sabah) spoke about the nature of laws (as they currently stand in most countries) as incompatible with the laws of nature. She proposed the concept of ‘circular law’ as the basis for a fundamentally different approach to the law – one that is non-linear, inclusive and regenerative and necessarily supports pluralism, complexity and connectivity.
Other presenters considered topics such as the rule of law, Indigenous and customary law, earth jurisprudence, and climate change and renewable energy.
In addition to University of Hawai’i students, a number of eminent judges and lawyers attended the event, including Hon. Antonio Benjamin (Chair of WCEL and Justice of the National High Court of Brazil), Professor Nilufer Oral (Chair of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law) and Professor Nicholas Robinson (founder of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law and University Professor on the Environment at Pace Law School). For more information, please contact Holly Jonas (holly (at) foreversabah.org).