Editor's Note(*)

Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum, Fall 1999 | Go to article overview

Editor's Note(*)


The Duke Environmental Law & Policy Forum is pleased to present papers from the Fourth Annual Cummings Colloquium on Environmental Law. The Cummings Colloquium was established in 1995 through a generous gift in honor of Jasper L. Cummings, Jr., a respected attorney from Raleigh, North Carolina. Each year, the Colloquium brings together scholars and practitioners of law, public policy, economics, and many other disciplines to discuss the most challenging contemporary environmental issues. The First Cummings Colloquium, held in April 1996, addressed the emerging non-equilibrium paradigm in ecology and its significance to environmental law and policy.(1) The Second Annual Cummings Colloquium, held in November 1996, examined the growing importance of comparative risk analysis as a tool for making environmental policy decisions.(2) The Third Colloquium, held in March 1998, investigated environmental politics to determine whether public choice theory adequately explains the emergence of environmental law and whether normatively desirable environmental law requires fundamental reform of the political system.(3) The Fourth Annual Cummings Colloquium, "Global Markets for Global Commons: Will Property Rights Protect the Planet?," is presented in this issue. The Fifth Annual Colloquium on Environmental Law & Institutions,(4) "Sustainable Governance: The Institutional Side of Sustainable Development," to be held on April 27-28, 2000, will explore the role that governments, in addition to business firms, play in environmental sustainability.

The Fourth Annual Cummings Colloquium was held on April 30 and May 1, 1999, at the Washington Duke Inn and Duke University School of Law.(5) The Colloquium was opened by Norm Christensen, Dean of Duke University's Nicholas School of the Environment (NSOE); Pamela Gann, Dean of Duke University School of Law; and Jonathan Baert Wiener, Professor at Duke Law School and NSOE as well as Director of the Cummings Colloquia.

The keynote address was delivered by Nobel laureate Douglass C. North. Professor North spoke on the challenges of devising global institutions in the presence of uncertainty.(6) He cautioned the Colloquium participants that many aspects of the world in which we live are non-ergodic;(7) thus, those who seek to design effective institutions to battle global environmental problems need to tread carefully. Professor North then fielded questions from Colloquium attendees; this session was moderated by Michael C. Munger, Professor of Political Science at Duke University.

The first panel focused on applying lessons from the theory of communal property systems and from institutional change at the local level to institutional evolution at the global level. This panel was moderated by Robert O. Keohane, James B. Duke Professor of Political Science at Duke University, with joint appointments in the Department of Political Science and NSOE. Carol M. Rose, Professor of Law and Organization at Yale University, presented her paper(8) comparing common property regimes (CPRs) and tradable environmental allowance (TEA) systems. Then, Bruce Yandle, Professor of Economics and Legal Studies at Clemson University, presented his paper on global institutional change and the possible evolution of private property rights at the international level.(9) These presentations were followed by comments from Margaret McKean, Professor of Political Science at Duke University, and Donald T. Hornstein, Reef Ivey II Professor of Law at the University of North Carolina School of Law.

After lunch, the second panel, moderated by Jonathan Wiener, addressed the application of local experience with privatization and private property rights to the global context. Terry L. Anderson, Professor of Economics at Montana State University and Executive Director of the Political Economy Research Center (PERC),(10) presented his paper(11) concerning whether effective property rights could be created under international law and whether such rights should be created top-down or bottom-up. …

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