On March 22, the William S. Richardson School of Law Environmental Law Program, funded a travel grant for me to attend the 25th Annual Conference of the National Association of Environmental Law Societies (NAELS). The title of the conference was “25 Years Back, 25 Years Forward: Environmental Law at the Crossroads;” its purpose was to bring together experts and emerging professionals to engage in dialogue about the history of environmental law and what the future of environmental law must look like to solve some of the worlds pressing environmental problems, such as climate change and food/water security. The NAELS conference featured guest speakers, Richard Lazarus (Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of Environmental Law Stories), Bob Perciasepe (Deputy Administrator at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency), and John Cruden (President of the Environmental Law Institute).
Throughout the two-day conference, I attended private “break out sessions,” small group sessions during which students could interact on a more intimate level with experts in the field. My favorite, though, was one session that featured Detroit’s urban agriculture movement – most of which is illegal due to stringent land use laws. During this session, I was able to draw comparisons between Detroit’s food deserts and Hawaii’s. The session offered some effective strategies to eliminate food deserts by strengthening the local community through education and outreach.
The first half of the conference focused on where environmental law stands today. The second half of the conference focused on the future. Main topics of discussion were climate change and sustainable development. At the end of the conference, students were asked to give input on what we thought the future of environmental law should look like in 50 years.
At the conference, I met and talked with students from many law schools around the country; we all seemed to be united by the same passion for solving environmental problems within our own communities. Mahalo to the Environmental Law Program for giving me the opportunity to be a part of this learning experience.