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Faculty Spotlight

Prof. Harrington Makes Mark at U.N. Climate Change Conference

By Ben Meyeres

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Delegates from nearly 200 nations gathered in Madrid, Spain, for the United Nations Climate Change Conference in early December. Albany Law School Professor Alexandra Harrington ’05 made an especially significant impact.

Just take a look at her schedule.

First, on Wednesday, Dec. 4, she gave a speech on enhancing capacity-building at the national and international levels under the Paris Agreement and Katowice Outcomes.

On Thursday, she talked about innovative laws to promote ambitious national and international climate change targets at an event hosted by the British government.  

On Friday, she hosted an event and gave two more speeches: the first on oceans and coastal management and the second on climate change and peace and justice issues—on Climate Law and Governance Day, no less.

Over the weekend, Professor Harrington delivered another speech, "Enhancing Ambition in International Instruments and Innovations from the Paris Agreement and Beyond,” on a research project involving oceans, coastal management, and international legal regimes. Then she hosted a presentation on climate law and governance specialization courses for negotiators.

After taking Monday off, she gave yet another talk on the interlinkages between international law, climate change, oceans, and coastal management on Tuesday.

Her final presentation—hosted by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and the World Commission on Environmental Law—was on Thursday, Dec. 12, titled "Intergenerational Justice" at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

“It was a bit of a crazy time!” Professor Harrington said about her eight presentations in a nine-day span. “I'm very fortunate to have the opportunity to routinely be asked to consult on issues relating to international law, climate change, and sustainable development, among others.”

As the research director and lead counsel for peace, justice, and accountability at the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), based in Montreal, Canada, Professor Harrington was well prepared for a demanding week on the international stage.

“The CISDL is involved in a number of international activities and I have the opportunity to contribute to many of them through firsthand research, writing, and lecturing. At the same time, I oversee the research work of the CISDL, including students, practitioners and experts, serve as an editor for many of our book and policy-paper publications, and work as part of a small senior leadership team that sets the research and activity direction for the organization,” Professor Harrington said. 

Harrington—who is also the research chair in global governance at Fulbright Canada—is teaching two courses at Albany Law School this semester as a visiting assistant professor.

“Each day presents the opportunity to blend three of my favorite activities: research, writing, and interacting with those from all backgrounds and disciplines,” she said.

The foundation of Professor Harrington’s work—her expertise and ability to deliver crucial information important audiences—was built during her years at Albany Law School.

“No matter what your area of legal focus, understanding how to think critically, research, write, and present your ideas are essential skills,” she said. “Albany Law helped me to hone these skills with activities such as the Gabrielli Moot Court Competition, which prepared me to take the research-based knowledge I gained and share it effectively.”