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New thinking on sustainability

31 January 2014

New thinking on sustainability

Civil disobedience as a response to environmental crises will be explored at a conference to be held at Victoria University’s Faculty of Law in February.

The conference, titled New Thinking on Sustainability, brings together for the first time in New Zealand, a new generation of environmental academics and practitioners whose focus is sustainability.

It also marks the founding of the Earth Law Alliance of Aotearoa New Zealand and the New Zealand chapter of the German Australian Pacific Lawyers Association and will introduce the concepts of Earth Law to a wider audience.

Organiser Catherine Iorns Magallanes, a Senior Lecturer in Victoria’s Faculty of Law, says: “Earth Law is a growing topic of discussion worldwide but is new to mainstream environmental law in this country. Earth jurisprudence involves taking an alternative ‘earth-centred’ approach to law.

“It is but one of several profound changes to current thinking that will be discussed. Others are the increasing calls for civil disobedience in pursuit of the need for social change and the exasperation of younger people at the mind set of existing world leaders and decision-makers.”

Keynote speakers at the conference include:
• Linda Sheehan, an environmental and policy expert from the United States. She was recognised in 2009 as a ‘California Coastal Hero’ for her efforts in fighting pollution of the Pacific and the streams and rivers that flow into it
• Professor Gerald Torres, an expert in agricultural and environmental law who is also a leading figure in critical race theory. Currently a Visiting Professor at Cornell University, he has served as deputy assistant attorney general for the United States Department of Justice in Washington DC and as counsel to then United States attorney general Janet Reno
• Klaus Bosselman, a Professor of Law and Director of the New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law at the University of Auckland. He is a leading authority on legal and ethical frameworks for sustainability with a special interest in environmental constitutionalism
• Brendan Mackey, Director of the Griffith University Climate Change Response Programme and a member of the International Council for the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. He serves on various governmental advisory bodies including the science advisory group to the Australian Climate Change Commission.

“One of the most exciting ideas to be discussed is a sustainability Bill of Rights,” says Ms Iorns Magallanes. “This would elevate the right to a sustainable environment to an overarching right which informs every right within a rights catalogue.

“It has been said that if we fail our environment we fail to protect human rights. This conference will go a long way to advancing the new way of thinking that is necessary to do just that.”

The New Thinking on Sustainability conference takes place from 14 to 16 February, 2014 at the Old Government Buildings in Wellington.

To find out more, visit: www.victoria.ac.nz/law/about/events-old/nz-centre-for-public-law/new-thinking-on-sustainability


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