ELP student Naima Fifita ’23 recently co-moderated a panel as part of a United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) 24-hour worldwide celebration for the 40th anniversary of the Montevideo Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law. The all-day celebration also commemorates the 50th anniversary of the Stockholm Declaration, the 50th anniversary of UNEP, as well as the 30th anniversary of the Rio Summit. In addition to Fifita’s panel discussion, several other panels were held around the globe discussing a wide variety of environmental topics.
Fifita hosted an IUCN Oceania webinar to discuss the role of environmental law in addressing the pollution crisis. The webinar celebrates the progressive development of the environmental rule of law and the achievements of UN Member States, international organizations, and the global community to address environmental challenges, such as pollution, through the law. Many lawyers and environmentalists in the Pacific region attended the webinar that included panelists such as Mason Smith (Regional Director, IUCN Oceania), Sefanaia Nawadra (Director General, Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme), Patricia Parkinson (Director, Environmental Law Oceania Consultancy), and Senoveva Mauli (Chair, Solomon Islands Environmental Law Association). The panelists represented several Pacific Island Nations including the Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea.
Throughout the panelists’ discussion on the pollution crisis several themes emerged such as empowering and improving capacity for lawyers in the Pacific and the importance of collaboration within the Pacific region. The panelists highlighted that Pacific Island communities bear a heavy burden as a result of the pollution crisis because the Pacific Ocean collects much of the world’s pollution. Several panelists also emphasized the importance of education and empowerment for island communities with sustainable resource management through legal devices. Another panelist discussed the idea of building a comprehensive treaty to responsibly manage the pollution in the Pacific.
Co-moderating the webinar is the last project Fifita will be working on at IUCN Oceania. “The webinar was a really good way to end my externship with IUCN Oceania. My supervisors showed their trust in me to host this panel on short notice, and it was a great feeling to see it turn out so well. I’m really thankful for the relationships I was able to cultivate whilst at IUCN Oceania; I know they will continue to exist and guide me long after my law school career” Fifita said. The webinar is the resolution of Fifita’s work with the IUCN that included virtual attendance at the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Marseille, France in September 2021. ELP congratulates Naima on her amazing work at IUCN Oceania and wishes her all the best in her future endeavors!