Rethinking ‘sustainability’

Published October 2, 2015

Rethinking the concept of sustainability in this time of climate change is the topic of the Fall Environmental Law and Policy Gathering, to be held from 4:40-6 p.m. Oct. 8 in 509 O’Brian Hall, North Campus.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will feature a discussion of “Rethinking Sustainability to Meet the Climate Change Challenge," a new book co-edited by UB Law professor Jessica Owley and Albany Law professor Keith Hirokawa.

Attendees also will hear updates from the UB Law School’s Environmental Law Program and the Buffalo Environmental Law Society, news about events on and off campus, and connect with environmental activists and lawyers in Buffalo.

Owley’s book asks whether the concept of sustainability as we know it has reached the end of its useful life. A term that means many things to many people, “sustainability” has been a positive driving force across all levels of society in a broad-based effort — “either through laws and treaties or voluntary action — to keep our planet and our people healthy.”

But none of those efforts has managed to prevent climate change. A reality that’s here to stay, climate change is “bigger than we would have imagined even 20 years ago,” Owley writes.

This volume presents a collection of papers from experts in the field articulating a wide range of thoughtful ways in which various conceptions of sustainability need to be re-examined, refined or articulated in greater detail to address these challenges.

As Owley and Hirokawa note in the book, one of the main challenges is the need for a better understanding of the issues and developing the proper means of communicating them.

The event is co-sponsored by the UB Law Environmental and Natural Resources Program, the Buffalo Environmental Law Society, the Buffalo Environmental Law Journal, UB Sustainability, the Baldy Center for Law and Social Policy, UB ReNew (Research and Education in eNergy, Environment & Water) and the Environmental Law Institute.