Environmental Conference Thinks Locally, Globally

March 2, 2002

Nick Marinello
Phone: 865-5714

There's an old axiom coined by environmentalists that encourages people to "think globally and act locally." A conference held this month at Tulane Law School may challenge the distinction between what is local and what is global as it presents a palette of local, regional, national and international environmental issues. "Environment 2002: Law, Science and the Public Interest" will be held at Weinmann Hall on March 8 and 9.

While they will draw a regional mix of lawyers, students and representatives from government and non-governmental agencies, conference sessions, which are free and open to all Tulane faculty, staff and students, should be accessible to anyone with an interest in the environment.

According to Eric Dannenmaier, director of the Tulane Institute for Environmental Law and Policy and one of the conference organizers, the event has three goals: raise awareness of environmental issues, update practitioners on relevant and timely topics and provide an opportunity for attendees to meet and reconnect with each other. The conference will embrace five themes, including human rights and the environment, environmental justice, urban environment policy, energy conservation, and water law and coastal issues. (The complete agenda and schedule may be found at

Themes will be represented through presentations by more than 40 speakers. In addition, on March 9, the conference will present three panel discussions on the sustainable development of the Gulf Coast. Other conference highlights include a keynote address by Brent Blackwelder, president of Friends of the Earth, who will speak on "Oil, Energy and the Fate of the Earth." Blackwelder will later debate with Robert Andersen, general counsel to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, about the vision for the corps in the new millennium.

The conference is in its seventh year and is one of two principal joint projects between the environmental institute and the student-run Tulane Environmental Law Society. The other project is a biannual newsletter. According to Dannenmaier, these educational and scholarly endeavors are only part of the institute's full agenda, which includes giving training and technical assistance on environmental law to developing countries.

Along with a program to offer technical assistance to developing countries (currently including Argentina, the Dominican Republic, Panama and Saint Vincent), the institute is involved in regional training projects that focus on industrial clean production and energy-efficient policies in seven Central American countries. Another ongoing project involves an environmental assessment of the free trade zones in the Western Hemisphere.

Dannenmaier, who joined the law school in September, say he wants to build on the local and regional connections of the institute. "Those are well-established in the environmental community," he says. "I would like to build on that through additional work overseas and by further integrating the students with the work of the institute so that we become more available to the students as part of their legal education."

Dannenmaier says that through overseas technical assistance and a range of projects in capacity-building, the institute will be more engaged in the international environmental arena. "International development and the environment are increasingly the focus of our research," he says. "Engaging Tulane faculty and students in that research will support our overseas technical assistance project work. And all of this will be achieved even as we strengthen our commitment to local and regional issues."

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