Every little bit helps: Law students and faculty do their part to assist sustainable development

With the semester now in full swing, students and faculty are doing their part to shed some light on sustainability.

Environmental law professor, Patrícia Galvão Ferreira, kicked off Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Awareness Week with a discussion panel on Climate Change and Energy Conservation.

Her lecture, The Paris Climate Agreement and the Global Move Towards Renewable Energy educated the university community about the importance of replacing fossil fuel generated energy by renewables in order to address climate change.

She highlighted how the International Paris Climate Agreement served as a catalyst for initiatives promoting the growth of the renewable energy sector in a significant number of developed and developing countries with high greenhouse gas emitters, including Germany and China. She also discussed how Canada, which already had a significant percentage of energy generated by hydro, needs to scale up investments in wind and solar as well.  She emphasized how a growing number of private investors are supporting renewables.

“Despite the progress, many political, regulatory and financial barriers still need to be addressed in order to make the transition to renewable energy sustainable,” said Galvão Ferreira. “Canada has an important role to play in this area.”

Students have also taken initiative to do their part.

Oshani Amaratunga (2L) was selected as one of two Youth Delegates to represent Canada at High Level Week at the United Nations (UN). Amaratunga journeyed to New York City in September to participate in the 72nd Regular Session of the UN, where she worked with members of the Canadian Delegation, various ministers and foreign officials to discuss what steps need to be taken to address climate change and to encourage youth engagement in public policy initiatives.

“I think it is vital for young people, especially in the legal field, to be engaged in matters pertaining to sustainability,” said Amaratunga. “The intersectional nature of sustainable development allows for collaboration on a multidisciplinary level. Policies that we put in place today, will significantly impact how we lead our lives tomorrow.”

In the coming weeks, Terra Duchene (2L) will do her part by presenting at the upcoming Taking Stock: The State of Food Law and Policy in Canada conference in Ottawa. Her presentation will use a comparative law approach to argue that Canada could help spearhead a move away from toxic pesticide use in our food industries by utilizing a diverse knowledge base and approaches to food production methods, including national Indigenous law and perspectives.

“It's an exciting time to be researching food law in Canada, as we are well situated to create comprehensive regulations on toxic pesticide use in our food system by drawing on the experience of multiple stakeholders,” said Duchene. “Encouraging and maintaining a diversity of practices is critical for a sustainable food system in Canada.”

Galvão Ferreira thinks it’s fantastic to see students taking initiative on sustainable development issues and looks forward to assisting them with their endeavours throughout the year.

“Participating in international negotiations or discussions on environment and human rights, and presenting in academic conferences discussing the intersection of environmental law and other legal areas such as food law, are vital opportunities for law students to learn about the role of law in promoting behavioral change toward a more sustainable and inclusive economy through experience,” said Galvão Ferreira. “It is also a great opportunity to exercise nurturing their own networks, a key aspect of developing a future career in law.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Oshani Amaratunga at High Level Week in NYC

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Oshani Amaratunga at High Level Week in New York City​

Professor Patrícia Galvão Ferreira  Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Awareness Week

Windsor Law Professor Patrícia Galvão Ferreira delivers lecture at Energy Conservation and Renewable Energy Awareness week