“There is no doubt that we are at a critical turning point, and the world which you are entering as a young graduate hangs in the balance. I urge you to embrace all that lies ahead, to never stop learning, to keep an open mind, be kind and always show a generosity of spirit.”
That was the advice Martijn Wilder AM (BEc (Hons) '89 Sydney, LLB (Hons) '92 ANU, LLM '94 Cambridge) offered 2017 ANU Law graduates at the Conferring of Awards ceremony recently..
Mr Wilder is head of Baker McKenzie's Global Environmental Markets and Climate Change practice, and an Honorary Professor of Climate Change Law at ANU.
At the ceremony, he spoke about his journey since graduating from ANU Law in 1992, the same year that the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change was adopted.
“The UNFCCC agreement was the genesis of the development of what has now established itself as a new area of law, International Climate Change Law,” he said.
“This legal discipline did not exist when I was at law school, but it’s now a legal discipline in which I’m an honorary professor here at ANU and which is also the area of law in which I practise.”
In 2012, Martijn was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition for "service to environmental law, particularly in the area of climate change through contributions to the development of law, global regulation, public policy and the promotion of public debate, and to the community."
While speaking frankly about the dire need for action on climate change, he also spoke of his hope for the future, and the role ANU Law graduates would have in shaping law around “a multitude of transformations that we have not and probably cannot even imagine today”.
“As graduates of one of the world’s leading universities, you have an opportunity afforded to so few to contribute to this world in ways that others cannot,” he said.
“At every turn, many of these new innovations will also cause major disruptions. They will challenge and require reform of many of the laws which we take for granted. They will require the development of new legal systems to support these new innovations, and whatever your field of interest, there is a certainty that the evolution of laws and brave and strong public policy will be fundamental to supporting this transition to a new low-carbon economy, and to a more sustainable way of life that embraces both the environment and economic development.
“I would urge you to find your passion, have no regrets and use you good fortune, your intellect, your creativity, and your inquisitiveness to make the world a better place.”