News

June 2015

IUCN Environmental Law meeting

On the 25th and 26th of June meeting was held in Bonn, Germany, hosted by the IUCN Environmental Law Centre. Lawyers from Australia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Nigeria, South Africa, USA, France, Argentina and Singapore were brought together to consider the next stage of a major project being led by Prof Paul Martin from the AgLaw centre at UNE. Experts from other disciplines represented within the IUCN also participated. The meeting considered the fundamentals of effectiveness, and possible directions for new research and practice.

That project involves the development and implementation of a methodology for objective evaluation of the effectiveness of environmental laws. The method has now been applied to evaluate laws in Australia, Brazil, China, South Africa and New Zealand. Further projects are underway applying the method to different environmental law issues. It is expected that September the method and the case studies trialling its use will be published by the IUCN. At the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Colloquium in Jakarta a meeting of the Academy, the World Commission on Environment Law, and the Environmental Law Centre will map out a strategy for research and practice improvement targeted towards tangible improvements in the effectiveness of environmental law.

The work on evaluation led by Prof Martin will be the foundation for new directions in empirical investigation of the law as an environmental governance instrument.  At the Academy meeting in Jakarta, a book on effective implementation of environmental law edited by Prof Martin and Associate Prof Kennedy will be launched as part of this larger endeavour.


March 2015

WELCOME VIVEK

Our new PhD student Vivek Nemane from India is now on board. He will be located in the AgLaw Centre and his PhD is part funded by the Invasive Animals CRC. Vivek will be researching legal and institutional aspects of the introduction of new pest control techniques in peri-urban areas (the sites will be peri-urban Brisbane and Sydney).

Vivek obtained his undergraduate degree in Law from ILS Law College, Pune, India; his LLM from Dept. of Law, University of Pune, India and his specialized LLM from University of Arkansas School of Law, USA. In addition, Vivek has successfully completed European Commission’s EM Fellowship program in Public Policy constitutive of specialized degrees in International Development (from International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, Netherlands) and International Public Policy (from Central European University, Budapest, Hungary).

He has significant experience working with international organizations, law offices and academic as well as research institutions in India and abroad.


February 2015

NATIVE VEGETATION FORUM

The AgLaw Centre hosted a Native Vegetation Forum  on Thursday 12 Feb at UNE.  This forum was jointly hosted with Scot MacDonald MLC (a former student within our Sustainability Masters), with the active encouragement of the local staff of the NSW EPA. This event was intended to encourage constructive local discussion about the very contentious issues of native vegetation legislation.  Approximately 60 people attended, representing a variety of (often strongly opposing) perspectives,  and the meeting was addressed by Dr Neil Byron ( the chairman of the recent review of biodiversity protection laws), and by the NSW Minister, Rob Stokes. As anticipated the discussion was robust and there were many different perspectives. However, because of the good faith and willingness of the people who participated it was possible to direct the meeting towards seeking ways of dealing with the issues that also supported local "social capital".

A number of people who attended subsequently indicated that whilst they expect that the meeting would be challenging, there was surprised to find that there was "space" for people that have a constructive discussion. The meeting determined that a set of proposals should go forward to the Minister, which will be refined in consultation with those people who attended the meeting, intended to shape the way in which the implementation of native vegetation protection laws might be approached which will be less confrontational within the local community.

It was generally agreed that this approach, where UNE's School of Law has been very innovative and engaged with the interests of our local community, is both constructive and creative. 

FRONTIERS IN ENVIRONMENTAL LAW COLLOQUIM

Paul Martin was a key speaker at the Frontiers in Environmental Law Colloquium, 10 & 11 Feb, University of Tasmania, Hobart. He presented on the topic of "non-doctrinal" research methods in environmental law. This is an area in which the Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law is increasingly recognised both in Australia and internationally as a pioneering contributor. Also in Tasmania at the same time was the meeting of the "Australian Panel of Environmental on Environmental Law",  of which Prof Martin is a member (http://www.placesyoulove.org/expertpanel).  That panel has been commissioned by the major environment organisations in Australia, to lead the development of a new national legislative framework for protection of the environment.

Both of these events are linked to an international project being led by Prof Martin for the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law and the IUCN Environmental Law Centre at Bonn,  to develop and apply a method for empirical evaluation of the effectiveness of environmental law. This project involves the use of the method developed by Prof Martin which has been applied to environmental law issues in Australia, China, Brazil, New Zealand and South Africa.

 The Australian Centre for Agriculture and Law has developed and is using a wide variety of innovative approaches to the empirical aspects of environmental law scholarship. This is reflected in the methods being used both by Postgraduate students, and by the academic staff of the centre.

INVASIVE ANIMALS CRC MEETINGS

Paul Martin leads the " Facilitating Effective Community Action" program for the Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre. The program conducted a Theme Review and Team meetings in Sydney on 26 and 27 Feb.  The meeting involved collaborators including state governors agencies from Queensland, NSW, Victoria, Tasmania and Western Australia, who are all involved in collaborative projects with Paul and his team. These projects address community engagement practice, improving the effectiveness of communications and legal and institutional reform.  There is also a cohort of doctoral students addressing a wide variety of issues concerned with enabling and supporting citizens to do what is needed to better control the adverse effects of wild dogs, pigs, rabbits and other invasive species.

 Among the publications which are emerging from the research are analyses of the ways in which existing legal and institutional arrangements limit the ability of some members of the community to take necessary action, but also how the failure to actively implement existing regulation may often impede the work of those who are trying to do the right thing. This work continues the programme of research which has been going on for some years within the centre, focused upon problems of rural sustainability and social justice associated with invasive plants and animals.

PROFESSOR TED ALTER, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY - VISITS IN FEB/MAR 2015

Professor Ted Alter from Penn State University is visiting  the School of Law between 21 Feb – 28 Mar.  Ted has been working with the Centre on a number of projects for some years,  notably within the "next-generation landscape governance" Australian Research Council project, and the invasive animals program. Ted and his team at PSU bring a specialist expertise in issues of community engagement and "engaged scholarship".  He has worked closely with the numbers of team members, including doctoral students, to help us to integrate issues of citizen empowerment and public participation with our research on legal and institutional aspects of rural governance.


November 2014

Nazrul Islam (who was a PhD student with the AgLaw Centre) has recently taken up a diplomatic role in Beirut, Lebanon as the Charge d'Affaires for the Embassy of Bangladesh.

Well done Nazrul!  

EXPERT PANEL ASSEMBLED FOR INAUGURAL MEETING - NEXT GENERATION ENVIRONMENTAL LAW

Professor Paul Martin was in Sydney for the inaugural meeting of Australia's new Panel of Experts on Environmental Law.

The Expert Panel brought together specialists from around the world to develop recommendations for renewal of Australia's current environmental laws.  The Panel will advise on new legislative solutions that ensure fair and efficient protection and management of Australia's environment as the foundation for sustainable jobs and a prosperous society. 

* For more information and list of panel members see:  http://www.placesyoulove.org/expertpanel/


October 2014 

Professor Paul Martin helped facilitate an Agricultural Productivity Summit in October. The summit was held at the Crossing Theatre, Narrabri. 

Farmers, researchers and government representatives joined forces to find ways to increase agricultural productivity in the north west.  The summit saw approximately 30 of local industry's leading minds come together to develop initiatives and identify specific actions that could increase the region's prosperity.

The University of New England and North West Local Land Services facilitated the event, which resulted in several draft recommendations.

UNE School of Law leading major international initiative on environmental governance

Professor Paul Martin from the AgLaw Centre is leading the development and testing of a scientific approach to evaluating how effective are legal arrangements for environmental governance. During October teams from Australia, Brazil, China, New Zealand and South Africa met in Bonn to bring together their initial findings from the use of the evaluation method that he devised. The project is a major initiative of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law and the IUCN Environmental Law Centre, forming part of a larger program to improve the effectiveness of environmental governance around the world. 

"This work is a ground-breaking attempt to bring the disciplines of scientific evaluation to the field of environmental governance, so that we can at last have an objective basis for deciding where to focus efforts on law and institutional reform" said Professor Martin. "The initial results support our hypothesis that attention has to turn from legal instruments, towards more effective systems of resource governance, which is a fundamental shift in environmental law scholarship, and policy reform". The teams evaluated issues including the precautionary principle and principles of participation, for the protection of trans-boundary ecosystems, marine life, and other ecosystem issues, in a number of countries.

The initial "experimental" use of the method developed by Professor Martin will be finalised early in 2015, and it is intended that the method then be rolled out on a larger scale, creating a body of objective knowledge about the effectiveness of natural resource governance methods, which will  then form the basis for further studies on the most effective ways to tackle improvement.


July 2014

Global Network Human Rights and the Environment  Symposium 'Reimagining 'humanity' in the nexus between human rights and the environment' 30th June to 1st July 2014 Tarragona

Jacqueline Williams (AgLaw Centre) Johnnie Aseron (Oorala Centre) and Professor Neyooxet Greymorning (University of Montana) as part of the collaborative research activities presented their paper on 'Decolonising Environmental Law'

In this context, they asked, - What is law and whose laws are we referring to? Environmental law (in contrast to the above and as a relatively new, innovative Anglo-centric instrument) has, even if unintentionally, created a means to legitimise unsustainable and inequitable development, the antithesis of its genesis. Will philosophical reinvestigation and decolonising environmental law (activism and praxis) lead to the protection of the earth as well as a better understanding for human rights? What role does self - determination play? Should we expect environmental law to succeed in such a contextual environment, one that has been predicated on dominant paradigmatic structure, inequality and the denial of pre-existent cultures and relationships to nature? Experiences of First Nations Peoples, as in the case of land rights and treaties, as well as those of Agrarian Communities, as experienced through current practices for integrated catchment management and regional natural resource management, further highlighted this recurrent paradigm. 

12th Annual Colloquium of IUCN Academy of Environmental Law 'Energy for a Fair Society in a Safe Planet' Tarragona June 30th to July 5th 2014

Amanda Kennedy and Jacqueline Williams from the AgLaw Centre presented their paper on 'Good governance for sustainable energy development: An Australian case study'.

Their paper explored the nature of the current mining versus agriculture land use conflict in the Namoi region examining relevant State and Federal regulatory frameworks and identifying how the law has behaved as an actor in this conflict and investigating applicable institutional arrangements that continue to influence the dispute.  Through analysis of Namoi stakeholders' interview data, institutional analysis, case law and other development documents, the case study uncovered a range of social and environmental justice issues associated with the development of energy. Their paper concluded with the consideration of what is meant by the notion of 'good governance' in the context of sustainable energy development for a fair society in a safe planet emphasizing the importance of procedural fairness, recognition, democratic participation, transparency and accountability in environmental governance.

Peri-urban 14: International Conference on Peri-urban Landscapes UWS Campus, Parramatta 8 to 10 July, 2014

Paul Martin and Jacqueline Williams from the AgLaw Centre held a workshop on "What sort of research program will be needed to support improvement in the management of peri-urban regions". The aim of the workshop was to 'sketch out' a research program that will best meet the needs of peri-urban communities and local governments, which could be the basis for a strong collaboration between communities, local government and research organisations. This workshop was built on the foundations of earlier peri-urban research undertaken by the AgLaw Centre in Western Sydney with the CRC for Irrigation Futures. 


June 2014 

International Symposia on Society and Resource Management (ISSRM): 'Challenges of Rural and Urban Transformation' held in Hanover from June 9-13th

Jacqueline Williams (AgLaw Centre) Johnnie Aseron (Oorala Centre) and Professor Neyooxet Greymorning (University of Montana) as part of the collaborative research activities, held a multi-disciplinary interactive workshop with participants from many countries and many disciplinary backgrounds on 'Innovative Collaboration, Inclusive Practices Governance and Recognising Cultural Capital: Sharing North American and Australian Experiences'. This interactive and entertaining workshop explored ideas that define NRM ecological, economic and social impacts to First Nations Peoples and Agrarian Communities, sharing Australia and North American experiences. The workshop also investigated through cultural perspectives, ideas of governance and governance structures, what it means to work collaboratively and definitions of and for Inclusive Practices.

European Commission Institute for Environment and Sustainability Ispra, Italy 16th to 28th June 2014

Jacqueline Williams from the AgLaw Centre attended the EC Institute for Environment and Sustainability to hold discussions on collaborative research on the EC Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and Good Agricultural & Environmental Condition examples and the feasibility of a single farm payment support for Australian farmers for sustainable food and fibre production and ecosystem service delivery. Jacqueline also presented her research on Soils Governance in Australia and Regional NRM Governance in Australia to IES staff.

EC 'Land as a Resource" Conference in Brussels: 17th to 19th June 2014

Jacqueline Williams attended the EC 'Land as a Resource' Conference in Brussels after an invitation from the Institute. This was a high level discussion as a preliminary to a new EC communication and directive on 'Land as a Resource'. More details on the conference and the speakers (with presentations and speeches) can be found here: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/land_use/conference_en.htm Interestingly special mention was made of Australia as an example of the dire consequences that can happen without farmer support.