By Regina Weiss (Derwent & Tamar Chambers)

Summary: 'Ecocide' refers to the destruction of the environment by humans, which is thought to have found its origins in the description of the use of Agent Orange in the Vietnam War. Fast forward more than half a century and the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide has proposed the legal definition for 'Ecocide' to be the "unlawful or wanton acts committed with knowledge that there is a substantial likelihood of severe and either widespread or long-term damage to the environment being caused by those acts". Global discussions are underway for the crime of Ecocide to become a crime for which individuals can be held criminally responsible before the ICC, with recent support from the European Union and other States to do so. Regina discusses in an open forum at IMAS topics including jurisdiction of the crime of ecocide before the ICC, the proposed definition, where it should sit in the ICC's governing treaty - the Rome Statute, procedural/evidentiary considerations and the obligations of Member States including Australia if it were included in the Rome Statute.

Bio: Regina Weiss is a Tasmanian barrister who previously served as prosecution trial lawyer at the International Criminal Court (ICC) for nine years on cases emanating predominantly from east Africa before returning to Tasmania in 2021. Since her call to the Bar, Regina was listed on the exclusive ICC List of Counsel for Victims and Defence and is the ICC Bar Association (ICCBA) Focal Point on sexual and gender-based violence. Regina was recently appointed as Chair of the ICCBA Working Group on Ecocide, which was formed to consider key issues and provide advice in the international arena on the proposed inclusion of the crime of Ecocide in the founding treaty of the International Criminal Court, the Rome Statute.

Congratulations to the Curious Climate Tasmania (CCT) team who were a finalist, and one of two ‘highly commended’ awards in the International Green Gown Awards, part of the United Nations High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, in the ‘Benefiting Society’ category.

CCT delivers public-powered scientific engagement, bridging the gap between experts and audiences with credible, relevant information about climate change. CCT is different from most science communication projects in that content is driven by its participants. It asks the Tasmanian community what they want to know about climate change, and responds directly to their questions.

The Curious Climate Tasmania team is a collaboration across UTAS but led by Professor Gretta Pecl (IMAS/CMS) and Dr Chloe Lucas (GPSS/CMS) and is a novel and highly successful science engagement program that links experts and the broader community to provide credible, relevant information about climate change but is importantly driven by public interests.

Read more and watch a short video here: University of Tasmania, Australia | Green Gown Awards.

CMS was lucky to have a fourth year Arts student from Beaux-arts de Paris, Sarah el Idrissi, spend several weeks with CMS. Here is a short video she made during a visit to Maria Island with CMS Director Professor Gretta Pecl, and marine ecologists Professor Sean Connell and Adriana Vergés. The video is set to music from the Bahrain pearl divers men’s choir

Supported by CMS, this film explores Tasmanian Aboriginal connection to kelp forests. The film also features CMS affiliate Dean Greeno, and was released January 6th at an amazing launch event. Watch the film and see the pics here.

Prof Gretta Pecl is an Ambassador for Business Events Tasmania

Abstract: Our global society is severely addicted to a particular vision of the world and a future that has become both unsustainable and undesirable. The facts about our predicament – climate and environmental disruption, biodiversity loss, growing inequality, financial instability, eroding democracy – have been known for decades. However, the solutions have also been known for just as long. So why have we not made faster progress? What is holding us back? This talk frames our current predicament as a societal addiction to a ‘growth at all costs’ economic paradigm. While economic growth has produced many benefits, its side effects are now producing existential problems that are rapidly getting worse. We can learn from what works at the individual level to overcome addictions to design therapies that may work at the societal scale. The first step to recovery is recognizing the addiction and that it is leading to disaster. However, simply pointing out the dire consequences of our societal addiction can be counterproductive by itself in motivating change. The key next step is creating a truly shared vision of the kind of world we all want. We need to design and test creative ways to implement this societal therapy. The final step is using that shared vision to motivate the changes needed to achieve it, including adaptive transformations of our economic systems, property rights regimes, and governance institutions.

Please see below recording of the webinar.

This webinar explored climate change adaptation from the cutting-edge science to on-the-ground action. Looking at what is happening locally to adapt to the impacts of climate change and Tasmania’s role in broader programs like the National Environmental Science Program.

This forum was hosted by the patron of National Science Week Tasmania and CMS member, Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas.

• Associate Professor Sarah Boulter, Associate Professor in Climate Change Adaptation, University of Tasmania and Climate Adaptation Mission Lead, National Environmental Science Program
• Katrina Graham, Senior Climate Change Officer, Hobart City Council

CMS members Dr Jess Melbourne-Thomas presented the talk "Challenges and solutions for Antarctic marine biodiversity under climate change", and Prof Marcus Haward presented the talk "Marine Biodiversity in the Southern Ocean: Lessons from CCAMLR" at the panel.

Plenary presentation at the World Fisheries Congress, 20-24 September 2021, Virtual

University of TasmaniaInstitute of Marine and Antarctic StudiesCSIRO Department of the EnvironmentGEOS
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