Global Environmental Enforcement Conference Held Before Pandemic Closes In

From March 10-13 government officials, academics and NGOs from all over the world gathered in Adelaide, Australia for a conference on “Environmental Collaboration: Shaping the future of regulation, compliance and enforcement together.” The conference was co-sponsored by the International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE) and the Australasian Environmental Law Enforcement and Regulators Network (AELERT). More than 300 people from 30 countries participated in the conference, though some switched their participation to remote access at the last minute as the COVID-19 pandemic was emerging.

Professor Robert Percival, director of Maryland Carey Law's Environmental Law Program, gave two presentations at the conference. Percival spoke about the work of Maryland’s Transnational Environmental Accountability (TEA) Project, including its June 2019 field trip to Guinea to monitor environmental damage from bauxite mining. He contrasted Australia’s generally successful approach to regulation of bauxite mining with the situation in Guinea and other developing countries. Percival also spoke on a panel about how academics can assist with environmental enforcement. He emphasized the work of environmental law clinics, including citizen suits and efforts to improve collaboration with NGOs and government agencies.

INECE has fostered the creation of several regional environmental enforcement networks. These networks help countries learn from one another to upgrade their enforcement capabilities. AELERT was formed in 2003 at the behest of wildlife inspectors in the Australasian region. The Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN), launched in 2005, now has 21 member agencies. A Latin American regional agency, formed in 2013, has members from 15 countries in Central and South America with several Caribbean countries expected to join soon. The European Network for the Implementation and Enforcement of Environmental Law (IMPEL) now includes 55 member agencies in 36 countries, including all EU members. Other networks include an East African network, founded in 2010, and a North African network founded in 2006.

Several presentations highlighted the enforcement work of environmental agencies in Australia’s six states. Unlike the U.S., Australia does not have a national environmental agency. Thus, officials in the country’s six states make greater efforts to coordinate their enforcement activities. One particularly impressive presentation highlighted how satellite technology is being used to determine whether agribusinesses are complying with water supply allocations in drought-plagued areas of the country. Despite not having a national environmental agency, Australia has created an Asbestos Safety and Eradication Agency at the national level to coordinate implementation of a National Strategic Plan to eliminate asbestos hazards.

About Maryland Carey Law

The University of Maryland Francis King Carey School of Law was established in 1816 and began regular instruction in 1824. It is the third-oldest law school in the nation, but its innovative programs make it one of the liveliest and most dynamic today. Maryland Carey Law stands among five other professional schools on the Founding Campus of the University of Maryland. It has taken advantage of this location to become an integral part of the Baltimore-Washington legal and business community.