UH law student Claire Colegrove reacts to the approval of Hawaiʻi’s 7 motions at the IUCN World Conservation Congress.

Seven motions prepared by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law students in partnership with community environmental groups and agencies, have been approved and adopted as resolutions by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) World Conservation Congress on September 6, 2016

Actions by the IUCN congress are the early stages of creating international law by forging a consensus, and creating global precedent for nations to follow for global protection of the environment.

The motions:

  • Calls for global action and regional approaches to tackle the problem of marine debris (motion 52)
  • Community-based natural resource management (motion 71)
  • Aloha + Challenge Model for sustainable development (motion 72)
  • Actions to curb biofouling (bringing new marine organisms to Pacific waters (motion 51)
  • Support of a Pacific region climate resiliency action plan combatting climate change (motion 60)
  • Indigenous peoples’ involvement in key IUCN organizations and programs (motion 83)
  • Validation of the importance of environmental courts (motion 85)

“This affirms the critically important work of our law students as emerging leaders on the global stage,” said School of Law Associate Dean Denise Antolini whose motions class developed the motions over three semesters in partnership with state agencies and environmental organizations. “Having the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Hawaiʻi gives us a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create the new cohort of Richardson lawyers engaging in international conservation for years to come.”

Attendees from around the globe shape environmental issues

The motions were 7 of 86 debated during the electronic vote process and proposed for attention by the World Conservation Congress of IUCN. Attendees from around the globe, including heads of state and other high-level government officials, are wrestling with critically important environmental issues involving everything from climate change and resource management to illegal poaching of endangered species.

The international gathering has been of special significance to law students who have attended the daily sessions, and may be dealing with these environmental issues through their law careers. The students also formed partnerships with other IUCN members to support motions to protect Pacific regions. The Environmental Law Program at the UH law school, directed by David Forman, is a voting member of IUCN.

“The class worked so hard to learn the process of what being members of the IUCN means,” said law student Jennifer Eick. “It’s just up from here; having a larger partnership (with the IUCN) is to come.”

Emily Gaskin, who led the effort to draft Hawaiʻii’s marine debris motion, noted that the significance of this issue was elevated when the law school’s motion was merged with a similar motion proposed by the government of Australia. “We were honored to be placed on the same platform with Australia,” said Gaskin.

Richardson Law Dean Avi Soifer said, “This effort embodies the collaborative approach of the law school’s Environmental Law Program and it illustrates why Richardson is so much admired not only throughout Hawai’i but around the globe.”