Overline: Lecture Series 2023
Headline: RIFS Focal Topic Year: “Justice in Sustainability”


Lecture series on the RIFS Focal Topic Year on “justice in sustainability"

"Territories of Life and Sacrifice Zones: Framing a Long-term Vision for Ecological Law” with Geoffrey Garver

The event will be held hybrid on 26.06.2023 at 16:00-17:30 (CEST) at the RIFS canteen at Helmholtzstraße 5, D-14467 Potsdam.

If you would like to participate in the event online, please register here. You will receive the dial-in data for the online conference room with the registration confirmation for the online event. If you would like to attend the face-to-face event, please register here.

Abstract: Ecological law, Earth system law and related legal approaches entail radical rethinking of the current arrangement of legal systems, from the local to the global scale.  In the modern industrial era, state and international legal systems have increasingly empowered corporations, capitalism and neo-colonial trade and foreign investment arrangements by which remote owners or decisionmakers harmfully exploit local ecosystems and the people who rely on them and know them best.  Consequently, many ecosystems, people and even cultures inhabit zones that are sacrificed to the “greater good” defined by growth-insistent sustainable development that consistently fails to ensure ecological sustainability and ecological justice.  In some places, Indigenous or local communities resist these trends by maintaining “territories of life,” places where these communities exercise autonomous, place-based governance that provides for community well-being and cultural richness while also conserving the ecosystems that sustain them.  Ecological law should be guided by a human-inclusive ecocentric vision of Earth made up of territories of life and a plurality of life-enhancing, place-based legal systems that support them.  State and global levels of law and governance linking or encompassing these legal systems should respect their autonomy and their life-enhancing focus, while also promoting their expansion and rejecting unjust sacrifice zones. Realizing this long-term vision for ecological law, Earth system law and related legal approaches will require a strong commitment to eco-cultural restoration, non-hierarchical dialogue among knowledge traditions, moving past a growth-insistent economy, re-emergence of the commons and a focus on meeting true human needs instead of consumerist desires.

Dr. Geoffrey Garver teaches environmental courses at McGill and Concordia Universities in Montreal and coordinates law and governance research for the Leadership for the Ecozoic program (http://www.l4ecozoic.org) of McGill University and the University of Vermont. He is on the Steering Committee of the Ecological Law and Governance Association (www.elgaworld.org) and is active in the international degrowth movement.  Geoff was the Director of Submissions on Enforcement Matters at the Commission for Environmental Cooperation (www.cec.org) from 2000 to 2007, and previously worked at the U.S. Justice Department and the U.S. EPA.  His book Ecological Law and the Planetary Crisis: A Legal Guide for Harmony on Earth (Routledge) was published in 2021.  He received a B.S. in chemical engineering from Cornell University, a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School, an LLM from the McGill Faculty of Law and a PhD in Geography from McGill University.


Past events

Rights of Nature and their Transformative Potential for more Sustainable Futures? with Riccarda Flemmer

“What Kind of Social-Ecological Transformations?” with Ulrich Brand

Lützerath Debrief: Legacy & lessons with Ruairí Casey, Judith Pape and Elias König

Klima- und Umweltpolitik: eine Frage von Privilegien? mit Fatima Ouassak und Gülcan Nitsch

Infrastructuring environmental (in)justice with Benno Fladvad

You can find the recordings of the lectures of the previous year here.