Events and news

Read about recent events and other news from NZCEL

  • The New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law (NZCEL) invites you to “A Conversation with Professors Caroline Foster and Joanna Mossop” at 6pm on Wednesday 29 May following the recent release of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea’s Advisory Opinion on Climate Change on Tuesday 21 May, chaired by Justin Sobion.  The Advisory Opinion set out the obligations of States party to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea with respect to climate change, establishing that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emission amount to “pollution” of the oceans, through ocean acidification and ocean warming. What are State’s obligations to protect and preserve the marine environment in relation to climate change? At this event we will discuss these issues and more. 
Future Generations Series
  • The New Zealand Supreme Court decision rejecting a strikeout in Smith v Fonterra: New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law (NZCEL)’s Professor Caroline Foster hosted a successful event, as part of the NZCEL Future Generations Series 2024. Over 75 people listened in Stone Lecture Theatre as the specialist panel comprising Associate Professor Vernon Rive, David Bullock, Daniel Kalderimis, Matanuku Mahuika and Simon Ladd exchanged views on the decision and responded to questions chaired by Judge David Kirkpatrick.
The Supreme Court Decision
  • The New Zealand Supreme Court decision on strikeout in Smith v Fonterra et al has paved the way for this important climate case to be considered by the New Zealand courts. The case raises far reaching questions about tort law in the fields of negligence, nuisance and damage to the climate system, as well as in respect of Tikanga. The New Zealand Centre for Environmental Law (NZCEL) invites you to come and participate in an exchange of views on the decision and its implications with a specialist panel. 

Poster for The Supreme Court Decision on Strikeout in Smith v Fonterra
The Supreme Court Decision on Strikeout in Smith v Fonterra
  • Prue Taylor and Karanina Sumeo Opinion piece: How New Zealand can help shape global action on climate change. NCEL member Prue Taylor recently contributed an op-ed in the Waikato Times with the acting Chief Human Rights Commissioner, Dr Karanina Sumeo. Taylor and Sumeo urged the Government to make climate action a priority. They argued that New Zealand's submissions to the International Court of Justice concerning the ICJ's forthcoming advisory opinion should reflect values of care and respect for living systems, human rights, indigenous rights, cultural well-being, and future generations.
How New Zealand can help shape global action on climate change
  • Professor Caroline Foster and Professor Christina Voigt Book launch - Professor Caroline Foster (University of Auckland) and Professor Christina Voigt (University of Oslo) launch their new book with Cambridge University Press “International Courts International Courts versus Non-Compliance Mechanisms: Comparative Advantages in Strengthening Treaty Implementation” on Thursday 7 March 2024.
Professor Caroline Foster and Professor Christina Voigt Book launch
  • Academics weigh in on Smith v Fonterra - The unanimous Supreme Court decision to give the go-ahead to a case brought by Mike Smith (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu) against seven of the country’s biggest green house gas emssions, including Fonterra, signals that the Court is united in its acceptance of the existential challenges posed by climate change, say NZCEL academics. Professor Caroline Foster and Associate Professor Vernon Rive say that as the Smith v Fonterra case progresses special attention will need to be given to the law on standing and causation, and to remedies. Foster says forward-looking and constructively crafted remedies are important compared to the more backward-looking apportionment of liability. Read more.
Cow standing in a field.
  • Student input to NZ submissions on ICJ Advisory Opinion on States' Climate Change Obligations - On 26 September 2023, Auckland Law School students participated in a facilitated discussion with MFAT legal advisors organised by NZCEL and the Environmental Law Students' Association. Students and staff had an opportunity to provide input to New Zealand's legal submissions to the International Court of Justice on the forthcoming historic Advisory Opinion proceedings on states' climate change obligations.
Top row: Sarah Ireland (Unit Manager, Environment and Resources Law, MFAT), Professor Caroline Foster, Luke Roughton (Lead Adviser, Legal Division, MFAT), Associate Professor Vernon Rive; Auckland Law Students: Airu Teng (NZCEL), Tian Gibson, Alex Wood, Jenny Kim, Maha Fier, and Arela Jiang.
Top row: Sarah Ireland (Unit Manager, Environment and Resources Law, MFAT), Professor Caroline Foster, Luke Roughton (Lead Adviser, Legal Division, MFAT), Associate Professor Vernon Rive; Auckland Law Students: Airu Teng (NZCEL), Tian Gibson, Alex Wood, Jenny Kim, Maha Fier, and Arela Jiang.
  • Professor Caroline Foster celebrates her forthcoming book - Professor Caroline Foster, NZCEL Director, celebrates her forthcoming book with Professor Christina Voigt (University of Oslo) at a panel discussion at the Pluricourts Centre for Research Excellence 2023. The book Courts versus Non-Compliance Mechanisms: Comparative Advantages in Strengthening Treaty Implementation (Cambridge University Press) by Christina Voigt & Caroline E Foster will be published in January 2024.
Panellists/contributors at the panel (left to right): Professor Caroline Foster, Professor Christina Voigt (University of Oslo), Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice (Queen Mary University of London) and Dr Yusra Suedi (LSE) .
Panellists/contributors at the panel (left to right): Professor Caroline Foster, Professor Christina Voigt (University of Oslo), Professor Malgosia Fitzmaurice (Queen Mary University of London) and Dr Yusra Suedi (LSE).
  • Climate Change International Law Moot 2023 - Professor Caroline Foster, Director of NZCEL, serves as judge alongside Professor Christina Voigt (University of Oslo) and Professor Helen Keller (University of Zurich) at the Pluricourts Centre for Research Excellence.
Climate Change International Law Moot 2023
  • Workshop on Future Generations Litigation and Transformative Changes in Environmental Governance - Professor Caroline Foster (NZCEL Director), Professor Klaus Bosselmann (NZCEL Founding Director) and Prue Taylor (NZCEL Deputy Director) at the Workshop on “Future Generations Litigation and Transformative Changes in Environmental Governance” co-hosted in Budapest by the ELTE University and Aarhus University on 8-9 June 2023.
Workshop on Future Generations Litigation and Transformative Changes in Environmental Governance
  • Professor Klaus Bosselmann becomes a Royal Society Fellow – Founding director, Prof Klaus Bosselmann has been honoured by appointment as a fellow of the Royal Society Te Apārangi.  This appointment honours outstanding achievement in research and the advancement of knowledge. It is an appropriate and welcome acknowledgement of his world leading scholarship in environmental and ecological law and governance. For more information see the Auckland Law School.
  • The recent retirement of Associate Professor Kenneth Palmer is marked by the Law School - Our highly esteemed and remarkable colleague Ken Palmer retired at the end of 2021. An event was held to acknowledge the contributions of Ken (and our colleague retiring Associate Professor Bill Hodge) to the University and legal profession. Ken’s vitae is evidence of a life dedicated to scholarship, students, colleagues and the legal profession. We wish Ken a fulfilling a retirement and thank him for his dedication, collegiality and generosity of spirit.
Associate Professor Kenneth Palmer
  • PhD Candidate Justin Sobion and World’s Youth for Climate Justice convene an event at the Geneva Graduate Institute - Justin and World’s Youth for Climate Justice convened and moderated a conversation on the International Court of Justice, Climate Change and Human Rights in Geneva on 14 July 2022. The purpose was to discuss Vanuatu’s initiative to obtain an advisory opinion on climate change from the International Court of Justice. Participants included: H.E Odo Tevi, UN Ambassador for Vanuatu; Dr M Wewerinke-Singh, Lawyer, Blue Ocean Law; and Therese Arnesen, Human Rights Officer, OHCHR.
Left to Right: Justin Sobion, Nicolas Lockhart, Partner, Sidley Austin, Geneva and Jule Schnakenberg, WYCJ
  • UK research visit for David Grinlinton - Professor David Grinlinton recently visited Cambridge University on deferred research leave. His main research focus was on the history of the doctrine of waste and its application as a tool to protect land and resources from unsustainable use. During his time in the UK he also progressed a book project on ‘Housing Law and Policy’ and resumed his collaboration with Professor Chris Rodgers of Newcastle University.
David in the main Cambridge University Library.
David in the main Cambridge University Library.
  • The 25th Issue of the New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law – a tribute to the founding editor, Dr Kenneth Palmer - Volume 25 of the New Zealand Journal of Environmental Law was recently published under the General Editorship of David Grinlinton who took over from Dr Kenneth Palmer following his retirement from the Law School in 2021. As noted in the Foreword to Vol 25, the NZCEL, and the environmental legal community at large, owe a large debt to Ken for his tireless and selfless contribution in founding, editing and managing the Journal for a quarter-century. Volume 25 is now available in hard copy, or as a readable electronic PDF version, including a gratis copy of the lead article by Staffan Westerlund (annotated and updated by Prue Taylor) entitled “Theory for Sustainable Development: Towards or Against?”. 
  • Stephen Knight-Lenihan attended Stockholm+50 (S+50) - June 2-3 this year as one of a group representing the Swedish child rights organisation Barnfonden. Stephen notes: “S+50 was never going to be a watershed moment like its predecessor. It was an opportunity to reflect on the original 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment, what has happened and achieved since, and the opportunities partially grasped or often lost. The IISD has done its usual very useful no frills Earth Negotiations Bulletin summary. Among the outputs I found the science report a particularly useful synthesis of the intertwined environmental challenges. As is often the case, the conference itself was the public face of several strands of pre-conference discussions and leadership dialogues, and these generated a range of useful interactions between many different individuals, organisations and countries. The triple threat of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution were constant themes, as were debates over neoliberal economics, green growth, and degrowth. I imagine many came away impressed by the voices of the young and indigenous people, the latter in particular noting their knowledge and wisdom has always been there but has been devalued. As the ENB reflected, S+50 was like a Swedish fika, a time to pause, reconnect, reflect, and then get back to work. Importantly, there were no stressed negotiators trying to marry global goals with domestic political demands to get a consensus outcome: it was instead a conference for discussion and coming together. As the song says, there’s no time for war if you take a påtår (pa-taw).”
Stephen with some of the placards provided by children round the world for Stockholm+50.
Stephen with some of the placards provided by children round the world for Stockholm+50.
  • Changes at the Helm of NZCEL - Following more than 25 years of leadership, NZCEL’s founding director Professor Klaus Bosselmann recently stepped down from the role. NZCEL members express their thanks to Klaus acknowledging with vast gratitude the sustained and exceptional contributions he has made by, firstly, implementing the decision in 1996 to form the NZCEL, and from its establishment in 1998 his sustained and exemplary contributions both in his management and in his inspired leadership of the Centre. Following interim arrangements, Professors Foster and Grinlinton will take over as co-directors of the Centre. Prue Taylor will remain on as Deputy Director to assist with the transition.
  • Legal Research Foundation Award for Jayden Houghton - Jayden Houghton won the Legal Research Foundation Unpublished Postgraduate Student Paper Award 2020 for his paper “An Opportunity for Māori and the Crown to Reconcile with respect to Mātauranga Māori and Taonga”. The paper takes inspiration from the claimants’ submissions to critique the Waitangi Tribunal’s Ko Aotearoa Tēnei (Wai 262) report and design procedural and substantive frameworks to address the Crown’s Treaty breaches with respect to mātauranga Māori (the body of knowledge originating from Māori ancestors, including the Māori worldview and cultural practices) and taonga (tangible and intangible treasures).
  • Dr Stephen Knight-Lenihan moves to Sweden - The city of Malmö has evolved from its industrial roots and established itself as a Swedish green innovation hub, something NZCEL member Dr Stephen Knight-Lenihan has a particular interest in. Stephen moves to Malmö in early 2022 for a couple of years, and will look at how well things have gone for the city’s green points system aimed at incentivising sustainable design. He also plans to continue research into how to incorporate ecological principles into legislation, particularly in the area of ecosystem enhancement and restoration. Stephen will become an external member of NZCEL. He welcomes enquiries at  
  • Professor Kenneth Palmer is marked by the Law School - Klaus received the prestigious award (international category) for his pioneering legal work and leadership over three decades.
  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France, has elected NZCEL member Professor Dr. Christina Voigt as new Chair for the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law - 13 September 2021 - Dr. Christina Voigt is professor of law at the University of Oslo, Norway, and a renowned expert in international environmental law. She is passionate about environmental legal issues, such as climate change, biodiversity, forests, oceans, environmental multilateralism, and sustainability. Professor Voigt has published widely on these topics and is a frequent speaker at international and national events. For more than 10 years, she also worked as legal adviser and negotiator for the Government of Norway in the UN climate negotiations. She is the first co-chair of the Paris Agreement´s Compliance and Implementation Committee. Professor Voigt has been engaged with the work of the IUCN WCEL for many years, including as the chair of the Climate Change Specialist Group of the IUCN WCEL and a member of the IUCN Climate Change Task Force.  She has two young sons, Oscar and Victor.
Dr. Christina Voigt
  • Caroline Lambert visits the University of Auckland - 29 July 2021Caroline Lambert, Head of Trade, EU Delegation visits with the Centre to discuss the new EU Green Deal and proposed Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, as well as environmental aspects of the New Zealand-EU free trade agreement negotiations.
Prue Taylor (Deputy Director), Caroline Lambert, Caroline Foster (Acting Director)
Prue Taylor (Deputy Director), Caroline Lambert, Caroline Foster (Acting Director)
  • Sustainability and Property Rights Conference – 17 June 2021 - NZCEL is partnering with the Institute for Environmental Law, University of Augsberg, Germany to present a collaborative conference profiling academics from both institutions. The conference will draw attention to the intersection between property law and environmental law. In this context it covers the perspectives of two different jurisdictions, seeks to promote sustainability as a balancing principle and expound requirements for sustainable environmental protection.For further information please contact Prof. Dr. Martin Kment
  • NZCEL Symposium “Rights of Nature, Kaitiakitanga and the Concept of Earth Trusteeship - This symposium was held on 20 November 2020 with 30 participating academics, experts and students. It explored theoretical and practical aspects of Earth trusteeship through seven presentations and plenary discussions. A particular practical focus was the cultural and legal developments around legal personality for natural beings, including Te Awa Tupua. Gerrard Albert, Chair, Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganu Te Awa Tupua and Christopher Finlayson QC delivered presentations on their understanding of whether legislation and initiatives for Te Awa Tupua represent a significant shift in relationships and obligations. The results of this symposium will inform ongoing research.
  • A new research project: Nation State and Earth Trusteeship - Klaus Bosselmann and Prue Taylor received funding for a research project entitled “Nation State and Earth Trusteeship: Advancing the Concept of State Sovereignty in the Anthropocene”. The aim of this project is to elaborate on the theory of the sovereign state as a trustee of both humanity and of Earth. The project will draw upon earth system science, emerging theories of governance and case studies demonstrating pre-existing examples of Earth Trusteeship. As part of this project, Prue and Klaus recently attended the 2019 Global Symposium on Ecological Law and Governance. The second day of the symposium took place at the Santa Chiara Lab at the University of Siena. The Lab takes an interdisciplinary approach and focuses on innovation for sustainable development. The highly productive day resulted in a proposal to transform the SDGs from an ecological perspective. This outcome was facilitated through the interaction of play and creativity. The presence of ‘boxes’ representing the 17 SDGs enabled participants to engage with the SDG’s in new and innovative ways.
Prue Taylor and Klaus Bosselmann at the Santa Chiara Innovation Lab, University of Siena.
Prue Taylor and Klaus Bosselmann at the Santa Chiara Innovation Lab, University of Siena.
Prue Taylor and Klaus Bosselmann at the Santa Chiara Innovation Lab, University of Siena.
Prue Taylor and Klaus Bosselmann at the Santa Chiara Innovation Lab, University of Siena.
  • Book launch: Fossil fuel subsidies and the law - In September, NZCEL member Associate-Professor Vernon Rive of AUT Law School formally launched his new book Fossil Fuel Subsidies: An International Law Response at an event at AUT's St Paul St Gallery. The event doubled as an opening for a 2-week exhibition featuring a selection of climate change-themed photographs taken by Vernon at locations in South Africa, France, Auckland and Huntly during the course of a six-year research project on fossil fuel subsidy reform. With support from the New Zealand Law Foundation, the book offers a wide-ranging analysis and critique of polycentric international responses to environmentally harmful fossil fuel subsidies. Drawing on interviews with officers and representatives of a wide range of institutions involved in subsidy reform, as well a broad range of cabinet papers and diplomatic correspondence, Vernon dissects and maps the activities of the international legal and governance framework relevant to fossil fuel subsidy reform. The book also contains constructive ideas and suggestions on how the international law framework could be employed more effectively and appropriately to respond to environmentally and fiscally harmful fossil fuel subsidies.
  • The IUCN, Trophy Hunting and Environment Ethics – hitting the headlines - In 2017 Professor Klaus Bosselmann and Prue Taylor (together with four members of the IUCN Commission for Environmental Law, Ethics Specialist Group) co-authored a report: ‘Compatibility of Trophy Hunting as a Form of Sustainable Use with IUCN’s Objectives’. Trophy hunting as a conservation tool, is highly controversial. Many IUCN members and observers have been highly critical of the organisation’s limited ethical dialogue on this issue. The purpose of the report was to encourage ethical debate on the topic of trophy hunting to ensure IUCN’s decisions (including those regarding membership) remain consistent with its ethical mission. The report was recently picked up by the UK Telegraph and acknowledged for its critical contribution to discussion. A subsequent article concluded that it is difficult to see how the Ethics Special Group argument is wrong. 
  • From War to a Peace and Life Zone in Korea - Professor Klaus Bosselmann was recently invited to Korea to attend the PLZ (Peace and Life Zone) Ecology Forum, 19-21 September 2019, organized by the People for Earth, (CEO Kang Geumsil) and Gangwon-do. The Forum was an integral part of the '2019 PLZ Festival' to newly recognize the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) as a Peace and Life Zone or ‘PLZ’. The PLZ is a unique ecological area and well-suited to joint trusteeship governance by North and South Korea. The topic of Klaus’s key note at the Forum was “Earth Governance: The State as Environmental Trustee”. While in Korea, Professor Bosselmann also gave a special lecture at Seoul National University's Graduate School of Environmental Studies and was invited to meet with officials of the Korean government including the mayor of Seoul, Park Won-soon, to discuss prospects of ecological transformation. His visit was noted by Korean television and press, including an interview for one of the nation’s largest papers; The Central Times.
  • International Treaty Negotiations - Prue Taylor recently attended the 3rd international governmental conference (IGC) to negotiate an implementing agreement to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, at the United Nations. She attended as a legal expert advising on behalf on the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP). In addition, she provided legal advice at the request of individual Pacific Island States. Areas of advice included; adjacency, environmental and strategic impact assessment, marine protected areas, climate change and the oceans and the common heritage principle. The new implementing agreement (entitled: Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction) is intended to create a legal regime for protection of the high seas marine environment and benefit sharing/use of marine genetic resources. The August negotiations were the first to focus on a draft text.
  • Resource Management Review - Honorable Tony Randerson QC was recently appointed to chair the Government’s Resource Management Review Panel. The Panel is tasked with achieving a comprehensive review identifying the “broader and deeper changes needed to support the transition to a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy.” The Government’s stated aim is “to improve environmental outcomes and enable better and timely urban development within environmental limits.” The terms of reference are still in draft form, but the review will encompass interactions between the Resource Management Act 1991 and the Local Government Act, Land Transport Management Act and Climate Change Response (Zero Carbon Amendment) Act. Professor Klaus Bosselmann, together with the Earth Trusteeship Initiative launched The Hague Principles for a Universal Declaration on the Responsibilities for Human Rights and Earth Trusteeship. The launch took place on 10 December 2018 at the Peace Palace, as part of the 70th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
  • Dr Kenneth Palmer: In 2018, Dr Palmer participated as a legal adviser in the Environment Court regarding an application for a declaration. The decision, Application by McKay [2018] NZEnvC 180, determined that the conversion of a cross-lease title to a freehold title, would normally require a new subdivision consent under the Resource Management Act. This outcome would ensure that necessary services and easements were in place, and other rules in the district plan were satisfied.
  • NZ Journal of Environmental Law: The production of Vol 22 of NZJEL has continued in 2018, under the main editorship of Dr Palmer - The volume, to be published early in 2019, will contain nine articles, mainly authored by students in the postgraduate programme. The subjects include the German and NZ approaches to sustainability; environmental trusteeship of the global commons; marine genetic resources; tikanga Maori in genetic modification; philosophy and environmental law; NZ and German waste systems; local government strategies for GHG reduction; and pricing fresh water extraction.
  • Professor David Grinlinton is offering a new LLM course in 2019 entitled Selected Issues in Environmental Law
  • In April 2018, NZCEL partnered with the Hillary Institute and the NZ Centre for Global Studies to host Professor Rockström (Director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre and Hillary Laureate 2017)  - for the delivery of a public lecture on Planetary Boundaries: Implications for Global Governance in the 21st Century. 
  • Professor David Grinlinton and Prue Taylor profiled - The University of Auckland showcased David and Prue’s work as part of its 2017 series on sustainability research and teaching.
  • Book Launch - Environmental Law in New Zealand (2nd edition), P. Salmon and D. Grinlinton (eds) Thomson Reuters 2018, was launched at the Auckland Law School. NZCEL members contributed several chapters to this comprehensive textbook.
Hon Peter Salmon QC and Professor David Grinlinton with Environmental Law in New Zealand 2nd Edition.
Hon Peter Salmon QC and Professor David Grinlinton with Environmental Law in New Zealand 2nd Edition.
  • Memorandum of Understanding with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP) - NZCEL and SPREP entered into a MoU in September 2017. This recognises past collaborations, including two editions of the Multilateral Environmental Agreements Negotiator’s Handbook, Pacific Region (2013 and 2017) and facilitates further work.
  • Addressing the United Nations - As part of the Interactive Dialogue of the General Assembly on Harmony with Nature and in commemoration of international Mother Earth Day, Klaus Bosselmann addressed state representatives on the concept of Earth Trusteeship including transforming the existing UN Trusteeship Council enabling states to function as trustees for humanity and nature. Professor Bosselmann’s address begins at 53.35 min.
  • Book Launch - Ecological Approaches to Environmental Law, K. Bosselmann and P. Taylor (eds) Edward Elgar 2017, was launched at the Faculty of Law, Sienna, Italy in October 2017.
Klaus Bosselmann, Polly Higgins, Prue Taylor and Massimiliano Montini at the book launch.
Klaus Bosselmann, Polly Higgins, Prue Taylor and Massimiliano Montini at the book launch.