Peter A Allard School of Law

First Annual Green Rights and Warrior Lawyers Virtual Academy and Inspirathon

Social media card announcing the GRAWL Academy and Inspirathon

How can lawyers and Indigenous legal knowledge holders use the power of law to fight for environmental justice, human rights to a healthy environment and the rights of non-human beings and ecosystems?

The First Annual Green Rights & Warrior Lawyers Virtual Academy and Inspirathon sought to inform and inspire interested people around the world about the role of law in securing environmental rights and justice.

This innovative program mobilizes the power of stories to bring issues of environmental rights and justice to life and inspire action, as nine courageous “Warrior Lawyers” from around the world share their stories of advancing “Green Rights” through (or sometimes despite) law. Featuring:

  • Cormac Cullinan, lawyer and pioneer of Wild Law and Earth Jurisprudence (South Africa)
  • Steven Donziger, attorney for the Ecuadorean plaintiffs in the Chevron Toxico saga (USA)
  • Mumta Ito, lawyer, environmental campaigner and Executive Director of Nature’s Rights (UK)
  • Marjan Minnesma, lawyer, social entrepreneur, Goldman Prize winner and Executive Director of the Urgenda Foundation (Netherlands)
  • Tony Oposa, lawyer, storyteller, change maker and Normandy Chair for Peace (Philippines)
  • Brian Preston, Chief Justice of the New South Wales Land & Environment Court (Australia)
  • Jacinta Ruru, Māori legal scholar, University of Otago (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
  • Chima Williams, lawyer, Goldman Prize winner and Executive Director of Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria (Nigeria)
  • Terri-Lynn Williams-Davidson, Haida lawyer, artist and musician (Canada)

The program had two parts: a virtual Academy, open to all, and a collaborative Inspirathon, open to current university students from anywhere in the world.

Part 1: The Academy

October 18, November 9 & 10, 2022

Online, free and open to everyone, everywhere.

3 days, 4 continents, 9 stories ... Unlimited inspiration!

The Academy spanned nine sessions over three days (Oct 18, Nov 9 & 10, 2022), each featuring a public talk by a leading Warrior Lawyer, reflections by an academic commentator and audience Q&A. Each Warrior Lawyer told their story of mobilizing law to advance environmental rights and justice, and issued a call to action aimed at prompting audience members to act upon what they have learned. The talks were streamed live over Zoom, recorded and posted on our YouTube channel.

You can find links to the recordings below, under each talk.

The speakers are world leaders in their fields, including environmental justice, sustainable development, the human right to a healthy environment, rights of nature and Indigenous laws. They are based in four continents or global regions: Africa, Europe, North America, and Oceania (Australia, New Zealand/Aotearoa and the Philippines).

Each talk was followed by a space-limited, informal "at the kitchen table" chat in which a small number of interested audience members who signed up in advance engaged in a relaxed virtual conversation with the Warrior Lawyer. Spaces were assigned first come, first served. These informal sessions were not recorded. 

Participants attended as many talks as they wished. Advance registration was required for live attendance.

The talks were scheduled to accommodate several time zones, but some took place overnight in some time zones. If you could watch a talk live, you are welcome to watch the recording.

Participants who attended six or more public talks and one or more “at the kitchen table” chats received an attestation of attendance at the Academy, upon request. Please note, however, that attendance at the Academy does not earn credit toward any academic credential. 


Day 1: Tuesday, October 18, 2022


Day 2: Wednesday, November 9, 2022


Day 3: Thursday, November 10, 2022



November 14 - 30, 2022

Open to current undergraduate and postgraduate university students in any discipline, anywhere in the world.

The Academy was followed by an Inspirathon, an innovative collaborative exercise open to teams of undergraduate and postgraduate university students in any discipline, from anywhere in the world. Students worked collaboratively to brainstorm how to transform states’ unsustainably exploited Exclusive Economic Zones into sustainably stewarded Enlightened Ecosystem Zones.

Students signed up in teams of two or more. Teams did not compete but worked collaboratively under the supervision of the Inspirathon organizers to produce a collective output.  

Students who participated in the Inspirathon received an attestation of participation upon request. 

Inspirathon Topic

Over the last half century, states have vastly expanded the areas of the world’s oceans over which they claim exclusive ownership and control. They legalized this massive “sea grab” by calling it an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), an area of the ocean in which international law gives coastal states exclusive sovereign rights to explore, exploit, conserve and manage natural resources and engage in other economic activities. The EEZ extends 370 km from a coastal baseline and contains some of the most productive, biodiverse, sensitive and significant marine ecosystems in the world.

The same period has witnessed an alarming acceleration in human exploitation and degradation of the oceans, exemplified by plastic pollution, coral bleaching, overfishing, oil spills and other marine ecological disasters. These trends are threatening the ability of oceans to support the human and non-human communities that depend upon them. Meanwhile, countries continue to fight over ocean resources and EEZ boundaries, and to project their military and economic power over the seas.

Instead of fighting over what they can take from the seas and the Earth, what if countries cooperated to care for them? What would it take to transform Exclusive Economic Zones into Enlightened Ecosystem Zones devoted to stewardship of oceans for future generations, equitable and sustainable distribution of the oceans’ bounty amongst humanity, restoration of the oceans’ ecological roles as planetary life support systems, and respect for all our non-human relatives with whom we humans share the oceans?

The campaign to achieve Enlightened Ecosystem Zones is being advanced by Filipino lawyer Tony Oposa, one of the Warrior Lawyers featured in this year’s Academy. It is part of Tony’s mandate as the Normandy Chair for Peace at the University of Caen, the motto of which is “To have peace on Earth, we must have peace with the Earth.” The current focus of the campaign is a petition to create an Asia Marine Peace Park in the South China Sea, but the idea of Enlightened Ecosystem Zones has worldwide application. Moreover, such zones could take many different forms, be advanced through many different political avenues, operate in many different ways and involve cooperation amongst many different parties. The sky is the limit!


Step 1: Sign up!

To enter a team, students filled out a registration form with the names, email addresses and university program information of all team members, choice of team name, and choice of country to research. 

Step 2: Watch Tony Oposa’s “Warrior Lawyer” talk

To understand the background for the Inspirathon, participants were asked to watch Tony Oposa’s talk at the Green Rights and Warrior Lawyers Virtual Academy. 

Step 3: Attend an orientation session

We held two virtual orientation sessions for registered teams, at 9:00 AM and 9:00 PM Pacific time on Monday, November 14, 2022. Each team member was asked to attend one orientation session. 

Step 4: Complete and submit your Inspirathon answers and video

Participants collaborated as a team to research the questions below and brainstorm ideas. Due to limited translation capacity on our end, answers were accepted in English. 

Each team submitted their answers to the following questions about their selected country’s EEZ:

  1. What size is it, which other countries’ EEZs does it border, and are its boundaries disputed?
  2. What sorts of marine ecosystems and species does it support, what condition are they in, and what pressures and threats do they face?
  3. What sorts of human communities and economic activities does it support, what condition are they in, and what pressures and threats do they face?
  4. How much of it is legally protected from exploitation, and what is the nature and extent of the protection?
  5. Which Indigenous people(s), if any, have relationships with the oceans now included in the EEZ, how do they relate to those oceans, and has your country implemented the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples with respect to Indigenous peoples’ rights in the EEZ?
  6. What would you propose as the main elements of an Enlightened Ecosystem Zone for your country’s EEZ?

Answers were expect to total no more than 1,500 words. We supplied teams with an answer template.

Inspirathon answers were due November 30, 2022, to be considered for prizes. After that, they were delivered to Warrior Lawyer Tony Oposa to help in his efforts to transform Exclusive Economic Zones into Enlightened Ecosystem Zones.


The Green Rights & Warrior Lawyers Virtual Academy and Inspirathon was organized and presented by the Centre for Law & the Environment at the Allard School of Law.

It was made possible by financial support from the At the Kitchen Table Foundation and the Catalyst Collaboration Fund of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies.

Event co-sponsors were the Global Network for Human Rights & the Environment, UBC Sustainability Hub, and UBC Environmental Law Group.

Poster announcing the GRAWL Academy and Inspirathon


Peter A. Allard School of Law UBC Crest The official logo of the University of British Columbia. Urgent Message An exclamation mark in a speech bubble. Arrow An arrow indicating direction. Caret A month-view page from a calendar. Caret An arrowhead indicating direction. Contact A page from a rolodex. Facebook The logo for the Facebook social media service. Information The letter 'i' in a circle. Instagram The logo for the Instagram social media service. Instagram An arrow exiting a rectangle. Linkedin The logo for the LinkedIn social media service. Mail An envelope. Minus A minus sign. Telephone An antique telephone. Play A media play button. Plus A plus symbol indicating more or the ability to add. Rss The logo for the Reddit social media service. Rss A symbol with radiating bars indicating an RSS feed. Search A magnifying glass. Twitter The logo for the Twitter social media service. Youtube The logo for the YouTube video sharing service.