The CLE is an internationally recognized hub for creating and spreading knowledge, ideas and practices at the Allard School of Law, across UBC and with wider communities about the role of law in securing a healthy environment and a sustainable society.
The CLE has three main focus areas:
- Advancing research about law and the environment by Allard faculty members, students and visitors;
- Enhancing environmental law education at Allard and beyond; and
- Promoting action toward environmental justice and sustainability through various public-facing activities.
The CLE is an institutional umbrella for environmental law researchers at Allard. Allard has an internationally recognized faculty in environmental law and related fields. See the People tab for a current list of core faculty members. The CLE is also a hub for environmental law research by Allard students and visiting researchers. At any given time the Centre has 8-10 affiliated graduate students and a handful of visiting researchers working under the supervision of the Director or core faculty members. Frequent informal drop-in meetings of affiliated graduate students, visitors and core faculty create a sense of research community.
In addition, several JD students conduct research as CLE Fellows at any given time, working on various projects including the Green Rights and Warrior Lawyers project and the Pacific CELL Climate Litigation project.
The Centre develops and delivers innovative environmental education opportunities for Allard students and increasingly beyond. The Centre coordinates the Specialization in Environmental and Natural Resource Law, which graduates a handful of JD students each year.
Green Rights and Warrior Lawyers
The Green Rights & Warrior Lawyers project is an unique collaboration between the Centre and renowned environmental author and educator Dr. Silver Donald Cameron. This project aims to create a cutting edge, multi-disciplinary educational platform to explore the human right to a healthy environment and the rights of nature through stories of courageous environmental defenders and lawyers around the world. It draws upon Dr. Cameron’s unparalleled collection of documentary films and video interviews with environmental thinkers and actors, which is hosted at www.TheGreenInterview.com. Drs. Cameron and Wood co-created a JD-level seminar on this subject that was launched in 2019. The ultimate goal of the project is to create educational resources available to educators and students in any field, at any stage in lifelong learning, in a variety of formats including in-person university courses, online open and for-credit courses, open-access educational videos, non-credit certificates, and continuing professional development courses.
Providing Allard JD students with clinical legal education opportunities in environmental law is a priority for the Centre.
The Centre collaborates informally with the Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Litigation (CELL) to give Allard JD students the opportunity to earn academic credit under the supervision of Centre faculty members while participating, along with students from other Canadian law schools, in a workshop on managing complex public interest environmental litigation, and working on actual litigation files.
The Centre is also responsible for the Environmental Law Externship program within the Allard JD program. The externship is currently dormant but could be resurrected in the near future.
Willms & Shier Environmental Law Moot Court Competition
The Director of the Centre, Stepan Wood, is the co-founder and co-chair of Canada’s national environmental law moot court competition. This biennial event is amongst the country’s most important initiatives for training the next generation of environmental lawyers.
3. Action and Outreach
The Centre organizes, hosts and participates in public-facing events, some aimed at mobilizing research knowledge to the academic and wider communities, others aimed at spurring practical action to advance environmental justice and sustainability.
Examples of events organized or co-organized by the CLE include occasional public lectures by Allard and visiting researchers; book launches and other research celebrations for Centre affiliates; workshops (for example with the North American Commission for Environmental Cooperation, on NAFTA citizen suits); conferences (for example a 2-day Protecting the Land conference with Students for Mining Justice in 2018); and informal ties with and support for student initiatives such as the UBC Climate Hub and the Allard Environmental Law Group.
The Centre also participates in direct action, including Climate Strike marches and marches to protest human rights abuses by Canadian mining companies. The Director and core faculty members also contribute regularly to public debate and policy making via open letters, law reform submissions, op-ed pieces and the like.