Environmental Law Students Begin A Project in Guinea, West Africa

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Professor Seema Kakade and Lecturer in Law Jingjing Zhang received an interprofessional grant from the University of Maryland’s Center for Global Education to take a team of students to Guinea, in West Africa, during the summer of 2019.

This project in Guinea is part of an overall existing two-year project at the law school, called the Transnational Environmental Accountability (TEA) Project, aimed at studying and acting upon the legal implications of the Chinese government’s policy to exploit natural resources in developing countries for the benefit of the Chinese economy. The TEA Project is working in three regions: Asia, Africa, and Latin America. The Africa team closely focuses on Chinese infrastructure and investment in Guinea, specifically an area surrounding a bauxite mine and a proposed refinery.

Guinea is one of the poorest countries in the world. It has one third of the global bauxite reserves and is China’s number one bauxite provider. Human Rights Watch has very recently detailed the environmental and health issues surrounding the mine. The Guinea project plans to work with local NGOs in Guinea to provide citizen science tool kits for NGOs and communities to document the Chinese companies’ environmental performance and any adverse impacts on the approximately 100 villages around its mining sites. The Guinea trip plans to include both law students and students from the School of Nursing.