I am honoured to have been appointed an Adjunct Professor in International Law at the University of Cape Town today.
I was always a pulled by the world’s waters. As a young boy I was fascinated by naval exploration; as a young man I was drawn to swim in some of the world’s most challenging seas. But if I hadn’t put my head down and studied law, I would not have been able to do what I do for the oceans.
Ocean protection is about getting nations to agree to put their different agendas aside and cooperate for the greater good. My job might start with a high-profile swim, but it quickly moves on to convincing the right people to sign enforceable international agreements.
A good negotiation is not a battle, it’s an exploration. I’ve learned that the art of negotiating is about cultivating respect, being open to points of view that are different from your own. How else can you frame an agreement that feels like a win for both sides?
Law taught me how to argue passionately and rationally – a balance that is key to being an environmental campaigner. I look forward to sharing my experiences in the field with students and colleagues at UCT’s Law Department, the place where my legal education began.
Education in South Africa has never been so vibrant and so urgent. Today’s world presents significant challenges – poverty, environmental degradation, racism, gender inequality, lack of education and illiteracy, terrorism, disease, hunger, climate change … I am excited to be part of this nexus where law, politics, and the environment intersect so dynamically, to help the next generation of lawyers and campaigners take on these key issues.
Pic credit: Kelvin Trautman