Source: Ka Leo

By: Alden Alayvilla, Web Editor

A visiting international professor of environmental law emphasized the importance of conservation, protection and restoration of the environment Tuesday at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa.

Antonio A. Oposa, Jr., the Inouye Chair holder for Spring 2015, explained to over 100 people at the Imin International Conference Center that humans need to shift from a mindset of wasteful consumption to conservation and protection for future generations.

“I like to call it restorative economics: First, to [restore] the land, air and water that we have destroyed; two, to restore the lost connection between man and nature; and three, to restore the … public of human society; and four, to restore the commonsense goal of life,” Oposa said.

Avi Soifer, dean of the William S Richardson School of Law, said the university is blessed to have the visiting professor for the next two months.

“Tony gets to the heart of the matters, but he also gets to people’s hearts and he’s a remarkable representative,” Soifer said. “He just doesn’t talk about it. He does it, and he gets other people do do it. It’s really quite a phenomenon and we’re really honored and blessed to have him here.”

Rachel James, a representative of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, presented an honorary certificate to the visiting professor and issued a statement from Gabbard who was not present Tuesday because of prior commitments.

“It’s an honor to congratulate you on your selection as the Spring 2015 Inouye chair,” the statement said. “We are committed to a long-standing efficacy toward environmental equity and respected international standard. Mahalo for your steadfast commitment to maximize the power of law. This focus will nurture and protect the environment for current and future generations.”

The spring 2015 Inouye Chair holder remembered when he was fresh out of law school and saw the rate of deforestation in the Philippines.

“Just out of law school, I have a 3-year-old son and I said, ‘When I saw this, we were cutting the trees down; we only had 800,00 hectares of rainforest left in the Philippines’,” he said. “They were cutting them down at a rate of 120,000 hectares a year. It doesn’t take a lot to understand that in seven years there will be no forest left.”

Oposa decided that he would use law to tell stories and help to restore the environment for his son and future generations.

“I can tell stories, law is my medium and the court is the canvas of my heart,” he said. “I filed a case on behalf of future generations, saying that ‘When my son becomes 10-years-old, he’s not going to have any forest left’.”

The case went to the Supreme Court of the Philippines and a law was passed to conserve the remaining areas of forest in the Philippines.

“Today would not be too far when all else would be lost; not only for this generation but also for succeeding generations that stand to inherit nothing but a parched Earth incapable of sustaining life,” The Supreme Court of the Philippines said.

Oposa said the “time for talk is over” and action is needed in order to restore the environment.

“Vision without action is nothing more than a dream,” He said. “Action without vision wastes time, but vision with action can and will change the word.”

On September 5th, we celebrated Senator’s birthday (September 7th) on the Big Island with the planting of an ohia lehua tree outside of the County building in Hilo. Mayor

Billy Kenoi hosted a wonderful celebration. The ohia lehua tree was selected because of its unique connection to the island. It is often one of the first plants to emerge from the lava fields, symbolizing strength and resilience. The Cafe 100 beef stew capped off a very special celebration.

A week later, the parade field adjacent to the National Infantry Museum in Columbus, Georgia was named for our dear Senator. A proud infantry man with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the Inouye parade field is the site of all U.S. Army Infantry basic training graduations. Nearly 18,000 men and women will march across this field as they mark the successful completion of basic training this year.

The YMCA’s Youth in Government program coaches young leaders throughout the island of Oahu on the legislative process, complete with the election of youth legislators and a youth governor. With our core mission to inspire leadership, the DKI Institute partnered with the Y, and brought in six leaders representing the legislative and executives branches, both political parties, even a newly elected non-partisan council member. The students spent quality time with them, culminating in a quick answer round with all six leaders answering a host of serious and silly questions, as well as demonstrating their best sign-waving moves!

Irene and Kenny were both in Hawaii to attend our mahalo reception to thank our donors and partners, and to share our progress in carrying forward Senator’s legacy. We also took the opportunity to show off some of our priceless pieces — the Medal of Honor, the Medal of Freedom, the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Paulownia Flowers the Order of the Rising Sun presented by the Emperor of Japan, and the Iran-Contra gavel. A great time was had by all.

In the spirit of the holiday season, let us be thankful for our many blessings – good health, good cheer, and the love and support of friends and family. Let us look to the New Year with a renewed optimism and hope. Haouli Makahiki Hou!

Irene, Kenny and Jennifer