Chinese Delegation Examines Ecology of Lake Champlain with VLS, UVM

​Scholars and government officials from China will examine legal and scientific issues related to watershed ecological damage and compensation, using Lake Champlain as a model, during a conference March 3-4 in Burlington. The delegation represents the School of Law at Fudan University, commissioned by the Chinese government to research and report on recommended legal frameworks for ecological restoration. 

Fudan is co-sponsoring the conference with the U.S-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law (PEL) at Vermont Law School and the Lake Champlain Sea Grant and Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources at The University of Vermont.

"In order to address current serious environmental problems, the Chinese central government has given high priority to strengthening laws and policies to protect the environment," said Professor Zitai Zhang, director of the Center for Environmental, Natural Resource & Energy Law at Fudan University, who leads the delegation of Chinese scholars and researchers. "One urgent priority is to develop legislation to address ecological damage and compensation. The use of Lake Champlain as a model to examine the legal framework to restore ecological damage to a watershed is invaluable to the research and legislation-drafting project. We look forward to an in-depth exchange with U.S. experts at the conference."

Conference organizers seek to increase Fudan researchers' understanding of the legal approach to restoring damaged watershed ecology in the United States; strengthen mutual understanding of Chinese and U.S. experts on environmental governance issues in both countries; and foster collaboration on comparative environmental law research in watershed management and ecological damage and restoration.

"Vermont Law School and UVM share a commitment to addressing environmental challenges globally," said VLS Professor Siu Tip Lam, director of U.S.-Asia PEL. "We are proud of our partnership and the opportunities it affords our faculty and students to exchange ideas with our colleagues in China. This is a unique opportunity for Fudan University scholars to examine law and policy solutions for ecological restoration, using Lake Champlain as an example, and for us to learn more about the legal framework for watershed restoration in China."

The Fudan University conference comes on the heels of two months of environmental law training for Chinese judges, co-sponsored by VLS and UVM with support from ClientEarth. VLS and UVM introduced the delegation to scientific and legal challenges that are unique to environmental issues, as well as measures to overcome them. Judges who participated in the training hail from courts all over China, including the country's highest judicial body, the Supreme People's Court.

The Vermont Law School U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law, founded in 2006 as the U.S.-China Partnership for Environmental Law, works collaboratively with government institutions, nongovernment organizations (NGOs), lawyers, judges, lawmakers and others to promote environmental governance in Asia. In 2013 the U.S.-Asia PEL initiated a Myanmar Environmental Governance Program. More recently, the partnerships embarked on a project working with government entities, NGOs and environmental lawyers from China and countries in the lower Mekong Sub-region—Myanmar, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Vietnam—to explore ways to sustainably manage the environmental and social impacts of rapidly increasing Chinese overseas investment in the region. For more information about the U.S.-Asia Partnerships for Environmental Law, visit vermontlaw.edu/us-asia, and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

The Rubenstein School of Environment and Natural Resources is one of eight colleges and schools at the University of Vermont, a public land grant institution. The Rubenstein School offers six Bachelor of Science degrees—Environmental Sciences; Environmental Studies; Forestry; Natural Resources; Parks, Recreation and Tourism; and Wildlife and Fisheries Biology—and Master of Science and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in Natural Resources. The school provides innovative experiential learning programs and is home to the Rubenstein Ecosystem Science Laboratory, the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics, and a partnership with the USDA Forest Service Northern Research Station. For more information, visit uvm.edu/rsenr, and follow on Facebook and Twitter.

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Vermont Law School, a private, independent institution, is home to the nation's largest and deepest environmental law program. VLS offers a Juris Doctor curriculum that emphasizes public service; three Master's Degrees—Master of Environmental Law and Policy, Master of Energy Regulation and Law, and Master of Food and Agriculture Law and Policy; and four post-JD degrees —LLM in American Legal Studies (for foreign-trained lawyers), LLM in Energy Law, LLM in Environmental Law, and LLM in Food and Agriculture Law. The school features innovative experiential programs and is home to the Environmental Law Center, South Royalton Legal Clinic, Environmental and Natural Resources Law Clinic, Energy Clinic, Food and Agriculture Clinic, and Center for Applied Human Rights. For more information, visit vermontlaw.edu, find us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter and Instagram.​