American Bar Association Encourages Accelerated Progress Toward Sustainability

The American Bar Association’s House of Delegates—the policy making body for the ABA, adopted in August a resolution urging “all governments, lawyers, and ABA entities to act in ways that accelerate progress toward sustainability.”  The resolution “encourages law schools, legal education providers, and others concerned with professional development to foster sustainability in their facilities and operations and to help promote a better understanding of the principles of sustainable development in relevant fields of law.” The resolution also reaffirms 1991 and 2003 resolutions supporting sustainability.

An accompanying report states that the resolution is intended not only to “supplement and elaborate on prior ABA House of Delegates resolutions,” but also to “support and give impetus to a more detailed, wider ranging, and more ambitious agenda for law and sustainability than is contained in those resolutions.”

The resolution is part of a growing international consensus about the need to speed up progress.  At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, countries agreed on the need to “accelerate progress” toward sustainability.   In late 2012, at the Conference of the Parties of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change in Doha, Qatar, countries agreed on the importance of “accelerating the reduction of global greenhouse gases.”   Just before the Rio conference, the Environmental Law Institute published a practical guide to speeding up progress, entitled Acting as if Tomorrow Matters: Accelerating the Transition to Sustainability.

To help accelerate ABA efforts, ABA President James Silkenat has appointed a Task Force on Sustainable Development.  The Task Force “will review and make recommendations regarding the role of the ABA in implementing sustainable development matters,” focusing on “ways that the ABA can provide leadership on a national and international basis.”  John Dernbach was appointed to that Task Force.