For UH associate dean Denise Antolini’s environmental law students and others across the state, the IUCN’s World Conservation Congress is the “opportunity of a lifetime.” It’s a chance to make their voice heard through seven “homegrown” motions that could help chart a local and global environmental course for generations to come.
The motions, developed through discussions with local environmental groups and state agencies, include calls for global action on marine debris, preventing biofouling (the spread of invasive marine organisms), developing a Pacific Region climate change action plan, promoting community-based natural resource management, using the Aloha+ Challenge model for sustainable growth, creating environmental courts, and valuing indigenous approaches to conservation. The motions are among 86 from other IUCN members worldwide.
Participants hope the momentum generated by the Congress will result in action at a policy level. “The Congress is a wonderful, amazing blend of governments and organizations all debating cutting-edge conservation issues,” said Antolini. “At the international level, this kind of ‘soft law’ can lead to real government action. For example, we would not have laws to protect endangered species in Hawai‘i and the U.S. if it weren’t for the IUCN.”
Antolini praised her students for their work with community partners that went far beyond regular classroom requirements. The process also encouraged collaboration in a big way. “When our motion on marine debris was merged with a similar one from the government of Australia, we realized our firepower tripled,” she said. “We were dealing on an equal footing with a major world government on something of common interest that impacts both Hawai‘i and Australia – and of course the Pacific as a whole.”
For a schedule of public events by the UH Law School during the IUCN World Conservation Congress, go to:
https://www.law.hawaii.edu/ article/public-events-uh-law- school-during-world- conservation-congress-iucn- aug-30-sep-5