2018 Symposium

“Sustainable Development Goals and International Law: Intersections of Environmental Law, Human Rights and Environmental Justice”
Friday, April 6, 2018
University of Wisconsin Law School

This Symposium is free and open to the public!

The 2018 Symposium has been approved for 8 hours of CLE credits. Click here for the CLE materials.

Click here for an overview of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals which will be the topic of this year’s symposium. 

The full schedule for the 2018 Symposium can be viewed here.
Photo by Andrew Magill, retrieved from http://www.flickr.com/photos/amagill/111870822/:

Keynote speaker

Margarette May Macaulay

Commissioner Margarette May Macaulay

“Sustainable Development and Human Rights: The Necessity of a Common and Transversal Agenda”

Overview of the symposium

2015 was a historic year for environmental protection in many respects. The international community adopted the 2030 Agenda and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as well as the Paris Agreement on Climate Change.  The Paris Agreement will go down in history as the first environmental treaty to embody both human rights and climate (environmental) justice.  The concept of sustainable development has had a long and winding road culminating in the adoption of the SDGs in 2015. From a rather rocky start with the adoption of the report ‘Our Common Future’, sustainable development has consolidated its position as a policy goal at both national and international levels. Its influence on international environmental law within a short span of time is far-reaching with some even claiming the emergence of a new branch of international law called International Sustainable Development Law.

Despite these remarkable developments, sustainable development and sustainability have remained rather elusive concepts – hard to define and hard to achieve.  The SDGs in this respect are a welcome and long-overdue development. They provide us with measurable goals and targets, and indicators are also in the making. From the Brundtland report in 1987 to the Rio Declaration in 1992 and the adoption of the SDGs in 2015, the global community took close to three decades to flesh out the parameters of sustainable development.

This symposium seeks to discuss the three pillars of sustainable development as articulated by the global community in the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development (1995) and endorsed later by the Johannesburg Declaration on Sustainable Development (2002) – environmental protection, economic development and social development and discuss how SDGs intersect with them.  While the first two pillars have received considerable attention by states and scholars alike, the social pillar remains undertheorized.  The social pillar clearly intersects with human rights and environmental justice.  This symposium will discuss the SDGs and the three pillars using the intersection of environmental law, human rights and environmental justice (including climate justice) as the overarching framework.

Confirmed speakers

Dr Sumudu Atapattu, University of Wisconsin Law School
Professor Rebecca Bratspies, CUNY School of Law, New York
Professor Duncan French, University of Lincoln, U.K.
Professor Erika George, University of Utah
Professor Joshua Gellers, University of North Florida
Professor Carmen Gonzalez, Seattle University School of Law
Professor Lakshman Guruswamy, University of Colorado at Boulder
Professor Usha Natarajan, The American University in Cairo, Egypt
Professor Ileana Porras, University of Miami School of Law
Professor Sara Seck, Dalhousie University, Canada
Professor Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, University of Waterloo, Canada & CISDL
Professor Christina Voigt, University of Oslo, Norway

Rukshana Nanayakkara, Transparency International Secretariat, Germany



JD grants, UW Law School
Global Legal Studies Center, UW-Madison
Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, UW-Madison
University Lectures Committee, UW-Madison
Office of Sustainability, UW-Madison
Jean Monnet European Union Center of Excellence, UW-Madison
Laurie Carlson Progressive Ideas Forum
WI Experience grant, UW-Madison
International Practice Division. State Bar of Wisconsin


* For any questions, please contact the Senior Symposium Editor, at symposium.wilj@gmail.com. Requests for sign language interpreters, real time captioning, Braille or electronic documents should be made no less than two weeks before the event. We will attempt to fulfill requests made after this date but cannot guarantee they will be met.

* Free and Open to all University Students, Staff, Faculty, and the Public.