Environmental Law Program

ELP Director David M. Forman ’93 Reflects on Professional Developments

I am immensely grateful to be the Law School’s first tenured faculty member of Filipino descent,* effective August 1, 2020.

ELP Director David M. Forman ’93.

Although martial law prevented my family from returning to the Philippines as originally intended, my parents were instrumental in helping create both the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Center for Philippine Studies (“CPS”) – where I previously served as a member of the CPS Executive Council – and Operation Manong (now known as the Office of Multicultural Student Services).  Filipinos make up more than 25% of Hawai‘i’s population but, as of 2019, we represented just 10% of the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa student population and 3% of faculty members (or a mere 1.6% of tenured faculty).

* Note: Professor Malia K.H. Akutagawa – who is Pinay in addition to Native Hawaiian – secured tenure in 2019, but her locus of tenure is with Kamakūokalani, the Center for Native Hawaiian Studies.

One of the contributing factors in my award of tenure was the forthcoming publication of a co-edited book entitled Legal Actions for Future Generations (Peter Lang Publishing 2020).  The book will be the first in a series to be produced by the Normandy Chair for Peace (“NCP”), see https://chairpeace.hypotheses.org/ (“We will have peace on Earth, when we make peace with the Earth”).  I serve as one of four NCP Heads of Collection along with:

Antonio A. Oposa, Jr. (Leader of the NCP, 2019-2023; Public Interest Environmental Lawyer, Philippines);

Nicholas Robinson (Chair Emeritus of the NCP; University Professor for the Environment at Pace University; Co-Director, Global Center for Environmental Legal Studies); and

Emilie Gaillard (General Coordinator of the NCP, Professor of International Environmental & Human Rights Law at Sciences Po Rennes, France), co-editor of the inaugural book.

Co-edited book, publication anticipated end of year 2020.

The inaugural interdisciplinary book features contributions from philosophers, law professors, practicing lawyers, a judge, scientists (both physical and social), and global activists.  A total of twenty-one essays are presented in six parts:

1) Exploring Theoretical Frameworks for Applying Intergenerational Equity;
2) The Nuclear Industry and the Rights of Future Generations;
3) Protecting Future Generations Through Climate Justice Litigation;
4) Prospective Legal Actions on Behalf of Future Generations?;
5) Protecting the Human Condition of Future Generations, a New Legal Question?; and,
6) The Imperative to Look Forward. 

I contributed a chapter in part four discussing efforts to regulate genetically modified organisms in Hawai‘i, along with a co-authored closing chapter introducing attorney Oposa and setting the stage for his public challenge to “Make a Difference for Future Generations,” and also devoted substantial energy to ensuring that English translations from original presentations en Français would be comprehensible to readers – a painstaking process, particularly given my lack of French fluency (despite being one-eighth French courtesy of my paternal grandmother, Callista Maria Berrigan, whose mother Georgianna LeVitre was born 1872 in Québec, Canada). 

After submitting my fall 2019 tenure application, I agreed to undertake an instructional overload by co-teaching two additional spring 2020 courses:

IUCN Workshop (during Professor Denise Antolini’s sabbatical); and

Pacific Islands Environmental Legislative Drafting (“PIELD”) seminar, a new offering by our Environmental Law Program (“ELP”)

Bridging our program with the Law School’s Pacific-Asian Legal Studies (“PALS”) program has always been one of my goals as ELP Director.  Over the past three years, ELP students were also selected for internships in various Pacific Island nations and territories with financial support from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Coral Reef Conservation Program and their partnership with the Pacific Islands Marine Protected Areas Community (specifically, the Micronesian Conservation Trust):

Rocknyer Hadley ’21 (Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia: Supreme Court; Kosrae, Federated States of Micronesia: Supreme Court);

Kevin Fernandez ’20 (Palau: Ministry of the Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism; Office of the Attorney General);

James Daugherty ’20 (Yap, Federated States of Micronesia: Office of the Attorney General);

Constancio Paranal ’21 (Guam: Office of the Attorney General); and

Joseph Sulon ’21 (Palau: Ministry of the Natural Resources, Environment, and Tourism; Office of the Attorney General).

From left to right: Willy Missack, Oxfam Vanuatu; David M. Forman ’93; Solomon Yeo, President, PISFCC.

I also accepted a summer 2019 invitation to participate in the first public forum held by the Pacific Islands Students Fighting Climate Change (“PISFCC”) in Vanuatu, at the Emalus campus, University of the South Pacific, with financial support from the NCP.  The title of my talk – which incorporated the Bislama word for “together,” along with references to work by other youth around the world – was, “Raging River(s): High & Low Islands TUGETA with Island Earth, Making Our Final Stands.”  I later met with members of the PISFCC’s Laucala chapter in Suva, Fiji, during the IUCN Oceania Regional Conservation Forum.  Attorney Oposa subsequently appointed me Guardian of Future Generations for the Oceania region.   

ELP student James Daugherty ’20 was a primary proponent of the PIELD course offering, recruiting fellow students and convincing ELP alumnus Andrew Porter ‘12 to be an instructor.  Porter currently works as the Coordinating Group on Alien Pest Species (CGAPS) Aquatic Invasive Species Legal Fellow, housed at the State of Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), Division of Aquatic Resources (DAR).  A licensed boat captain who practiced Maritime Law in Guam and the Marianas Islands after graduating from WRSL with an Environmental Law Certificate, Porter took the lead in pulling PIELD together following discussions with friends in the Guam Office of the Attorney General about the need to build capacity for environmental regulatory drafting to help preserve environmental resources throughout the Pacific.  

According to Porter, “What I enjoyed most about this class was that many times I felt like a student when listening to the deep knowledge of our amazing guest speakers. Their ability to convey the struggle of many Pacific island jurisdictions in overcoming the conflict of laws between colonial statutory law and traditional customary law with real world examples really resonated how devastating this issue is and how building grassroots legal capacity to reconcile this conflict can help preserve the cultural identity of the Pacific islands.”

The collaborative effort to provide students with necessary technical skills, cultural background and other information included guest lectures by:

David Sakoda ‘10, DLNR/DAR

Matthew Coke, Legislative Reference Bureau

Stephanie Easley, CGAPS, Terrestrial Invasive Species Fellow

Jessica Toft, Guam Attorney General’s Office

Joseph Foukona, UHM Department of History (Solomon Islands)

Justice Daniel Foley, Palau Supreme Court

Ian Garrod ’17, DOCARE Legal Fellow

Justin Rose, Lecturer, University of the South Pacific (Vanuatu)

Michael Lameier, NOAA Fisheries, Pacific Islands Regional Office

From left to right: Ian Tapu ’20, Miki Nakamura ’20, James Daugherty ’20, Deion Cua ’21, Dr. Joseph Foukona, Drew Porter ’12, David M. Forman ’93.        Not pictured: Kalina Cloud ’20.

The inaugural cohort of students included Kalina Cloud ’20 (Guam: draft regulations concerning Eco-Permitting in Marine Reserves); Deion Cua ’21 and James Daugherty ’20 (State of Chuuk, Federal State of Micronesia: draft regulations concerning Protected Area Networks); Miki Nakamura ’20 (Guam: draft regulations concerning Sharks and Rays); and, Ian Tapu ’20 (Guam: draft bill Relative to Improving Agencies’ Ability to Address Illegal Dumping).  ELP is collecting additional requests for legislative and regulatory drafting assistance for other jurisdictions in the Pacific, with the hope of generating sufficient interest to justify continued course offerings in future semesters.

Meanwhile, ELP is in the process of developing a new collaborative effort involving students and faculty at the Australia National University (ANU) College of Law and the University of Cebu, Philippines, to assess compliance and enforcement of multilateral environmental assessments in the Asian-Pacific region for the World Commission on Environmental Law.  In October, I will also join Dr. Punihei Lipe (Director, UHM Center for Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation) for a webinar with ANU’s Indigenous Working Group to discuss “Places of Decolonized Learning” as a prelude to future interactions between Aboriginal/Torres Strait Islander and Native Hawaiian students at the ANU and WSRSL.  More to come!

FacebooktwitterlinkedinmailShare this post!
FacebooktwitterinstagramFollow us on social media