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 seeks 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 has two parts: a virtual Academy, open to all, and a collaborative Inspirathon, open to current university students from anywhere in the world.
How to Register
Registration is easy and free. You register separately for each session you wish to attend. Simply scroll through the program below and look for the "Register" buttons.
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 spans 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 will tell their story of mobilizing law to advance environmental rights and justice, and close with a call to action aimed at prompting audience members to act upon what they have learned. The talks will be streamed live over Zoom, recorded and posted online.
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 will be followed by a space-limited, informal "at the kitchen table" chat in which a small number of interested audience members who have signed up in advance can engage in a relaxed virtual conversation with the Warrior Lawyer who has just given a public talk. Spaces will be assigned first come, first served. These informal sessions will not be recorded.
You may attend as many talks as you wish. Advance registration is required for live attendance.
The talks are scheduled to accommodate several time zones, but some take place overnight in some time zones. If you cannot watch a talk live, you are welcome to watch the recording.
Participants who attend six or more public talks and one or more “at the kitchen table” chats will receive 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
PART 2: THE INSPIRATHON
November 14 - 30, 2022
Open to current undergraduate and postgraduate university students in any discipline, anywhere in the world.
The Academy will be 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 will work collaboratively to brainstorm how to transform states’ unsustainably exploited Exclusive Economic Zones into sustainably stewarded Enlightened Ecosystem Zones.
Students will sign up in teams of two or more. Teams will not compete but will work collaboratively under the supervision of the Inspirathon organizers to produce a collective output.
Students who participate in the Inspirathon will receive an attestation of participation upon request.
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, please fill out this registration form with the names, email addresses and university program information of all team members, your choice of team name, and your choice of country to research. You don’t need to choose your own country, and up to two teams may choose the same country (in which case you will have the option to collaborate with the other team). Please note that by signing up, you agree that we may share your contact information with other registered participants for purposes of facilitating collaboration.
We will send you a welcome message confirming your registration.
Step 2: Watch Tony Oposa’s “Warrior Lawyer” talk
To understand the background for the Inspirathon, please watch Tony Oposa’s talk at the Green Rights and Warrior Lawyers Virtual Academy. You can register to watch the talk live on Wednesday, November 9, 2022, at 5 pm Pacific time (8 PM New York | 1 AM London, Lagos | 2 AM Amsterdam, Cape Town | 5:30 AM New Delhi | 8 AM Manila | 11 AM Sydney | 12 PM Auckland), or watch the recording afterwards. We encourage you to attend other talks in the Virtual Academy too. They are all free!
Step 3: Attend an orientation session
We will hold 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 should attend one orientation session. We will send registration links to teams in advance. If you are unable to attend an orientation session, please let us know and we will make alternative arrangements.
Step 4: Complete and submit your Inspirathon answers and video
Collaborate as a team to research the questions below and brainstorm ideas. Due to limited translation capacity on our end, please submit your answers in English. You can start working on the Inspirathon any time after we confirm your registration. You don’t have to wait for the orientation session to get started, but you should attend the orientation before finishing your work.
Each team will submit their answers to the following questions about their selected country’s EEZ:
- What size is it, which other countries’ EEZs does it border, and are its boundaries disputed?
- What sorts of marine ecosystems and species does it support, what condition are they in, and what pressures and threats do they face?
- What sorts of human communities and economic activities does it support, what condition are they in, and what pressures and threats do they face?
- How much of it is legally protected from exploitation, and what is the nature and extent of the protection?
- 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?
- What would you propose as the main elements of an Enlightened Ecosystem Zone for your country’s EEZ?
You should keep your answers reasonably concise, aiming for a total of no more than 1,500 words. We will supply teams with an answer template.
Each team will also record and upload a video, maximum 3 minutes long, pitching the proposal to convert its selected country’s Exclusive Economic Zone into an Enlightened Ecosystem Zone. Your video does not have to be technically sophisticated. You might create it as a promotional campaign video for public consumption. Or you might record it as if you have been given three minutes to present your proposal to your country’s president or prime minister. You might want to use live action, or maybe animation. Use your imagination and creativity! You may record your video in a language other than English, but if you do, please include English subtitles.
You must submit your Inspirathon answers and video no later than November 30, 2022, to be considered for prizes. Please put your research answers in the body of the email (no attachments), and send them to firstname.lastname@example.org. We will provide instructions on how and where to upload your videos in due course.
To encourage wide participation, we plan to award several non-competitive book prizes upon completion of the Inspirathon, potentially including:
- First team to register
- First team from each continent
- Most imaginative written answer
- Most creative video
Details of prizes will be announced on this page in due course.
If you have questions about the Inspirathon, email email@example.com. We look forward to hearing from you!
The Green Rights & Warrior Lawyers Virtual Academy and Inspirathon is organized and presented by the Centre for Law & the Environment at the Allard School of Law.
It is 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 are the Global Network for Human Rights & the Environment, UBC Sustainability Hub, and UBC Environmental Law Group.