THE “TRENDS in International and Comparative Environmental Law” forum, sponsored by the Ateneo Human Rights Center, was held in the Bernas Seminar Room, Ateneo Professional Schools (APS) last March 4, 2014. The event presented two world-renowned advocates of Environmental Law and was graced by important personalities from the same field in the local sphere.
In light of the recent calamities and natural disasters that plagued the Philippines in the past year, Atty. Amparita Sta. Maria opened the occasion by emphasizing the need for our country to apply coping mechanisms that would lower its vulnerability to calamities and natural disasters. Thereafter, the invited speakers, Emeritus Professor Ben Boer of the University of Sydney, and Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin of the National High Court of Brazil, both famous for being strong supporters of Environmental Law, were introduced to begin the discourse.
Professor Boer, a former Co-Director of the International Union for the Conversation of Nature Academy of Environmental Law, focused on the urgent need to fast track the development and implementation of Environmental Law in the international, regional and national levels. He further stressed the importance of creating a legal framework that will be sufficient in supporting the environment and its natural resources.
Justice Benjamin, former Secretary General of the United Nations Environment Programme on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability, then gave a dynamic presentation highlighting the necessity for sustainable development and meeting the needs of the present without compromising those of future generations. After the speakers gave their respective lectures, a friendly debate, which Justice Benjamin described as, “a sharing and exchange of ideas,” ensued between the speakers, well-known guests and students.
Prominent lawyers and Environmental Law practitioners graced the forum, including retired Justice Adolfo Azcuna, the Chancellor of the Philippine Judicial Academy (PHILJA); Alfredo Tajar, a member of the PHILJA Board of Directors; Judge Thelma Allena-Ponferrada and Justice Oswaldo Agcaoli, both members of the PHILJA; and Atty. Antonio Oposa, Jr., a pioneer of the practice of Environmental Law in the Philippines.