Environmental Law Program

IUCN Members Overwhelmingly Pass all Five ELP Motions

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced the results of its electronic voting process on November 4. All five motions sponsored by ELP passed by an overwhelming majority via electronic vote.

IUCN Members were asked to vote on a total of 109 motions, including 15 with amendments, during the voting period that took place from October 7-21.

The motions were written by ELP students as part of IUCN-focused workshops offered over multiple semesters. Professor Denise Antolini, who is also the Deputy Chair of the World Commission on Environmental Law, taught the first iteration of the workshop in spring 2016 in preparation for the IUCN World Conservation Congress (WCC), which took place in Hawai‘i that September.

Held in a different location every four years, the WCC brings together over 1,400 members of government, civil society, and indigenous peoples’ member organizations, who vote on motions targeting major environmental issues.

ELP Director David M. Forman ’93, who co-taught the spring 2020 IUCN workshop class, explained that “the IUCN Motions Working Group started with a record high of 221 submissions at the end of summer 2019, which were then evaluated against IUCN process, formatting and content requirements.” Forman added that “ELP students reviewed all 109 accepted motions, then monitored and contributed to online discussions led by IUCN facilitators aiming toward consensus formulations, then drafted voting recommendations for ELP and other IUCN members in Hawai‘i and elsewhere.” 

Once motions pass, they become IUCN’s general policy as resolutions and recommendations, which have historically influenced the adoption of several international environmental instruments, standards, agreements, and conservation best practices.

The motions drafted by ELP students included:

022: Stopping the global plastic pollution crisis in marine environments by 2030

030: International cooperation on marine pollution from sunken vessels

*046: Strengthening the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment and the Global Institute of Prosecutors for the Environment
*Two separate motions written by ELP were combined into this motion

054: Climate crisis legal toolkit

071: Safeguarding coral reefs from harmful chemicals in sunscreen

“Having the opportunity to take part in the motions process was incredibly valuable to me as a student,” said Kevin Wrabley, who took the IUCN workshop course three times. “I learned so much about many critical issues impacting Hawai‘i and the Pacific, and about the IUCN in general. And getting to see our motions through the entire process, from drafting through passage, was extremely rewarding.”

The announcement that all five ELP motions were adopted represented a special moment for Emily Gaskin, ’17, who took the IUCN workshop as a student, co-taught the most recent version of the class, and is now the Executive Officer for the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law.

“It has been a privilege to work with a dedicated group of law students over four semesters to develop motions to guide the policy of the IUCN,” she said. “Through the motions process, the students were able to elevate local environmental issues to a global stage, and in doing so, make a meaningful contribution to conservation initiatives in Hawai‘i. We are grateful that our global partners recognize the importance of these issues and chose to strongly support the motions prepared by ELP.”

The following motions co-sponsored by ELP (including drafting assistance on Motion 002 and 055) along with other Hawaiʻi IUCN Members also passed:

Motion 002: Strengthened institutional inclusion concerning indigenous peoples
Co-Sponsored by ELP, Hawaiʻi Conservation Alliance Foundation, Kamehameha Schools, Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo

Motion 038: Promoting biodiversity preservation through environmentally friendly energy transformation measures
Co-Sponsored by ELP

Motion 055: Global Indigenous Network for Aquaculture (GINA)
Co-Sponsored by ELP, Kamehameha Schools, Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo

Motion 112: Maximising return on conservation investments and sustainable development: eradicating invasive alien species (IAS) to conserve island biodiversity and benefit society
Co-Sponsored by Hawai’i Conservation Alliance Foundation

Aarin Gross, ’08, who also co-taught the most recent IUCN workshop, praised the insight of WSRSL students as they tackled pressing global issues.

“It was nice to be able to see the students’ perspectives on some of those global issues and how they saw them relating to Hawaiʻi,” said Gross, Hawaiʻi Senior Program Manager for Policy and Operations at Conservation International (an IUCN member institution). “Having the motions class and the previous iterations of it are great opportunities for law students to work on something in real time that is relevant and effecting the larger conservation community.”

Motions that did not result in consensus text or that otherwise require further discussion will be considered during the Members’ Assembly at the upcoming WCC, which will take place in Marseille, France from September 3-11, 2021 (postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic).

The following motions co-sponsored by ELP or other Hawaiʻi IUCN Members will be discussed at Marseille:

Motion 003: [Establishing a Climate Change Commission] [Establishing an Inter-Commissional Cross-Sectoral Task Force on the Climate Crisis] [Establishing an IUCN Climate Task Force]
Co-Sponsored by Hawai’i Conservation Alliance Foundation, Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo

Motion 024: Restoring a peaceful and quiet ocean
Co-Sponsored by ELP

Motion 044: Actions to strengthen food sovereignty and security of indigenous peoples and peasant communities
Co-Sponsored by ELP, Kamehameha Schools

Motion 045: Recognising and supporting indigenous peoples’ and local communities’ rights and roles in conservation
Co-Sponsored by Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo

Motion 048: Rediscovering the care of Mother Earth from the vision of indigenous peoples
Co-Sponsored by Kuaʻāina Ulu ʻAuamo

Motion 126: Advancing conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity in the ocean beyond national jurisdiction
Co-Sponsored by ELP

JU 12/15/20

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