Recent events and news

Read about recent events and other news from NZCEL

  • 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.
  • 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.

Vernon Rive is pictured here with AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack and Professor Kris Gledhill
  • 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’

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.

Telegraph article.

A subsequent article concluded that it is difficult to see how the Ethics Special Group argument is wrong. See subsequent article here. 

  • 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

Visit the UN's official website.

Sculpture of a whale
Sculpture of a whale ensnared in plastic outside the UN Conference Centre, August 2019
  • 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.

Improving our resource management system

  • 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.
  • Professor Johan Rockström: 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 Faculty of Law. 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.
  • 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.