Conferences

CLEANR hosts public conferences that bring together a variety of perspectives and disciplines for a range of audiences. UCI Law has hosted or co-hosted a number of interdisciplinary conferences on various environmental topics.

  • Economic Transition in the Anthropocene: Ensuring a Just and Sustainable Future for Humanity
    April 24-26, 2019
    Co-Sponsored with Partners for a New Economy and the UCI School of Social Ecology

    This conference explores today’s political economy and its role in shaping the Anthropocene and our future. We consider questions relating to power, such as who gets what and why, how power becomes concentrated, and how can we increase opportunity and fairness while displacing entrenched vested interests. We also investigate whether and how business as usual can enable us to live safely within the boundaries of nature, the ultimate arbiter of human well-being.

  • Fire and Ice: The Shifting Narrative of Climate Change
    February 8-9, 2019
    Co-Sponsored with the UCI Forum for the Academy and the Public

    This conference takes a wide-ranging look at the crisis of communication surrounding climate change, considering the challenges of altering individual and systemic behaviors, and the importance of continued action both local and global in scope. Conference sessions will feature panel discussions on data and denial; the imminence of the sixth extinction; law, justice, and sustainability; and global industrial development; as well as conversations between authors Elizabeth Kolbert and David Ulin, and a keynote address by Bill McKibben.

  • Solutions to Plastics
    November 5, 2018
    Co-Sponsored with the Newkirk Center for Science and Society


    This conference addresses the problem of global plastic pollution.
    Plastic products are very cheap to produce from petroleum, but extremely difficult to remove from waste streams. Nearly two-thirds of all marine plastic debris originating on land is discharged through ten rivers, two of them in Africa and the rest in Asia—where plastic from the West is often transported for recycling. The process of plastic recycling remains problematic, as not all types of plastic can be recycled together, and recyclable plastic frequently ends up as waste. Considering the great potential value that improvements to recycling and the reduction of waste hold for the global environment, this conference aims to contribute to cooperative engagement and increased understanding of potential solutions to these issues between and across the scientific community, government, business, education, and an empowered civil society.

  • Strengthening the Great Blue Wall: The West Coast Response to Offshore Drilling
    October 8, 2018
    Co-Sponsored with the Newkirk Center for Science and Society

    This conference was a collaboration among participants from across Washington, Oregon, and California, bringing together tribal, state and local voices to discuss potential responses to proposed oil and gas drilling off the West Coast. The conference included representatives from governmental agencies, the legal community, grassroots advocacy, local tribes, and the fishing industry, to foster dialogue and promote understanding of the role of law and an empowered civil society in response to these renewed threats. The conference provided participants with the opportunity to examine options for effective legal actions, and to explore alternative strategies and recommendations. Agenda

    6.75 hours of MCLE credit approved by the State Bar of California. UCI School of Law is a State Bar-approved MCLE provider.

  • 2017: The Year of Housing? Affordable Housing and Beyond
    March 3, 2017

    California confronts an ongoing shortage of affordable housing, with the average cost to buy a home 150% higher than the national average and the average cost to rent 50% higher than the national average. This conference addressed innovative state-level and local approaches to addressing California’s persistently high housing costs. Agenda
  • Global Food Summit: Towards Regional Resilience
    November 4, 2015
    Beckman Center for the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering

    This conference focused on local and regional food security resilience, bringing together UC faculty and affiliates with innovative community leaders in Orange County around issues of food systems sustainability. This conference is hosted as part of the Toward a Sustainable 21st Century series, an initiative of a foundation of global reach and a research university to do together more than they can do separately on significant unsolved problems of global society in the areas of marine resources conservation, and threats to ecosystem and environmental health caused by toxic chemicals and the absence of effective governance structures which promote sustainability. Agenda

  • Desalination—A Solution to Drought and Clean Water Demands?
    October 15, 2015
    Co-Sponsored with Brown Rudnick, LLP

    Access to clean water is increasingly becoming one of the key challenges to humans and wildlife worldwide as population pressure, degrading water quality, declining snowpack and industrial and agricultural discharges contribute to this growing crisis. This conference will explore the potential role of desalination as a viable source of clean water in our region, as well as developments in desalination technology in other arid regions of the world, such as the Middle East and Australia. This symposium will also identify the challenges and benefits of this technology with the guidance of practitioners and policymakers at the forefront of desalination. CLE credit is available for participants.
    Agenda | Program
  • Symposium on Law and Governance of the Arctic
    January 30–31, 2015

    This symposium explored the effectiveness of existing governance in the Arctic region, strategies for improving effective implementation, and possible alternative governance regimes. A segment of the presented papers will be published in the UCI Law Review as a symposium.

    Brian Israel, Office of the Legal Adviser for Oceans, International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, United States Department of State gave a lunchtime presentation on “Governing a Changing Arctic: Law, Policy, and the Upcoming U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.” Program
  • Toward a Sustainable 21st Century: Ocean Health, Global Fishing and Food Security
    November 21, 2014

    Co-Sponsored with the UCI Newkirk Center for Science and Society

    Keynote Speaker: Andrew Sharpless, Chief Executive Officer, Oceana

    This conference explored the latest science and domestic and international law and governance challenges of managing overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution threats to the world’s oceans. Agenda and Videos
  • Harmonizing Marijuana Legalization with Environmental, Land Use, and Other Regulations
    October 23, 2014

    Co-Sponsored with Brown Rudnick LLP

    Keynote Speakers: Lou Correa, State Senator (D-Santa Ana) and Dale Gieringer, Director, California NORML

    Despite stringent controls at the federal level, U.S. states have adopted laws legalizing the use of marijuana for medical or recreational purposes. A suite of land use and environmental laws may nonetheless regulate marijuana production activities, including product safety, pesticide use, environmental impacts, facility siting, and use of public lands. Attorneys also face uncertainty as to their ability to advise industry clients regarding these activities. This symposium explores these issues, guided by leading experts deeply involved at the interface of federal and state marijuana use and control. Agenda
  • The Collision of Energy Development and Environmental Laws
    October 3, 2013

    Co-Sponsored with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP

    Rapidly changing around the world, energy development poses new economic and environmental challenges on a daily basis. Many companies are making long-term investment and supply chain decisions based upon climate change models.  “Zero” emission vehicles have changed the point of emissions from the tailpipe to the power plant, but those emissions are only as “clean” as the source that generates the power.  Laws and regulations are adapting to the changing world of energy development, and this year’s symposium discusses the law, politics and policies influencing these changes. Photos | Program
  • De-Extinction: Ethics, Law & Politics
    May 31–June 1, 2013

    Co-Sponsored with the Stanford Center for Law and the Biosciences

    What if extinction is not forever? Recent work by biologists, conservationists, geneticists, bioengineers, and other pioneers has made it increasingly likely that some once extinct species– like the pictured thylacine, or "Tasmanian tiger,"  could, in the near future, be "revived." While  popular attention has focused on the mechanics of bring back once extinct species, ethical, legal, and even, in a broad sense, political issues will become pressing as de-extinction moves closer to reality.  Join the Center for Law and the Biosciences on May 31, 2013, as we host scientists, lawyers, philosophers, ethicists, and others from across the world to discuss the implications about this fascinating development in humanity's ability to control life. Videos
  • Ocean Acidification Conference
    May 3, 2013

    Co-Sponsored with The Newkirk Center

    This conference is the 12th in the Toward a Sustainable 21st Century Series. It focused on the science of ocean acidification and its biological effects, as well as the legal and governance issues raised by these present and projected physical and biological changes. Agenda and Videos
  • The Future of Offshore Oil Drilling: Science, Law and Governance
    November 9, 2012

    The conference explored the scientific, legal and policy challenges and questions raised by offshore drilling. The conference brought together scholars and government officials from a range of disciplines to consider the lessons from past experience with offshore drilling and the risks of future use. The conference helped advance the understanding of how the application of national and international law and governance, informed by translational science, can best prevent and/or manage the risks of offshore drilling. One panel at this conference focused on the lessons of the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Agenda and Videos
  • Pesticides: Domestic and International Perspectives in Science, Law and Governance
    April 11–13, 2012

    The conference sought to spark reassessment of the existing model of agriculture, to consider alternative paradigms, and to catalyze scientific, legal and other partnerships that might integrate consideration of human and enable ecological health into the design of chemicals and processes to sustainable agriculture. One day of the conference included a plenary session in the main auditorium of the Beckman Center of the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering, with the second day focused on intensive dialogue by a smaller group (30 or 40) exploring the next paradigm and how to get there. Agenda and Videos

  • Glacier Melt, Early Snowmelt and Sea Level Rise
    October 21, 2011

    This conference examined issues of defining science, law, governance, the role of civil society, and presented case studies on all three interrelated topics: glacier melt, early snowmelt and sea level rise. A concluding panel discussed challenges posed by both scientific certainty and scientific uncertainty. It was the ninth conference in the "Toward a Sustainable 21st Century" series, an initiative of a foundation of global reach and a research university to do together more than they can do separately on significant unsolved problems of global society. Agenda and Videos
  • a3, A Conference on Climate Justice
    April 1, 2011

    The first student-run conference at UCI School of Law, a3 examined the social injustices faced by vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected by climate change. The one-day event explored and strategized ways to address climate justice through the power of law, policy, and coalition building. Agenda | Flier
  • Enhancing the Future of the California Coast
    March 4, 2011

    This conference focused on different perspectives on preserving the rich California marine environment, including an understanding of the underlying science behind conservation initiatives, approaches to laws aimed at protecting and enhancing the environment, and policy interventions that have been attempted in the past and should be considered in the future. Agenda and Videos
  • Preserving the Environment of the Arctic Region
    November 12, 2010

    This conference focused on the Arctic region and its challenges. It included experts from a range of disciplines from academia, government, and civil society considering the role of science and traditional indigenous knowledge, as well as the adequacy of existing national, regional, and international law and governance, in preserving and managing the Arctic environment. Agenda and Videos

  • Marine & Freshwater Conservation Law and Governance
    May 14, 2010

    This symposium addressed how society does and should govern its waters, with a focus on marine and freshwater conservation, including a number of case studies. The program involved experts from practice and a variety of academic disciplines. The morning panel provided an overview of relevant law and then concentrated on governance of the Colorado River Delta, including a discussion of current and historical problems and possible solutions. The afternoon sessions focused on Mexico’s Northwest Coast. Agenda and Videos
  • Stopping the Pollution of the Planet: Priorities of Environmental Law and Health
    October 9, 2009

    This symposium, which included a number of articles published in the inaugural volume of the UC Irvine Law Review, focused on the evolution of environmental law in developing strategies for promoting environmental health; leveraging knowledge to catalyze action on behalf of environmental protection; and in-depth case studies on such environmental health issues in China. Agenda and Videos