Friday, October 9, 2009

Graduate Program Open House Attracts Students, Professors, Alumni, Friends of the Program

One of the special benefits of studying in the DU Environmental and Natural Resources Law & Policy Graduate Program is the opportunity to be part of the "community" of individuals who study, work, and learn together.

Many of the program's alumni have told me that this element of the program -- that is to say being a part of a larger community and making lifelong friendships-- was among the highlights of their time at DU.

And the community spirit continues, as was seen last Friday night at my house.

Nearly 50 current students, graduates, professors, and friends of the program assembled on a wonderful autumn evening to become better acquainted. Similar events in years past have resulted in enduring friendships between current students and graduates, between professors and current students, and among all members of the community. And this year will certainly be no different.

The diversity of our program -- which is a longstanding hallmark of studying at DU -- was clearly on display Friday evening. There were individuals from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, Uruguay, Saudi Arabia, and the U.S. The enormous diversity of the program allows all of us to learn from each other and to benefit from others' points of view. It is difficult to imagine a more friendly and warm group.

Not to brag, but one of the highlights of the evening was the chance everyone had to watch my son Paco march back and forth, time and again, along a fence in the back of my house. Paco, who is actually a cat (although I am not sure he knows that), has taken exception to a new cat who has moved in next door. Consequently, Paco has to "work the wall" back and forth as he diligently seeks to protect "his space." The students on the back patio seemed impressed -- if somewhat amused -- with Paco's work ethic.

And before I close, a big thank you to Lucy Daberkow, assistant program director, for organizing the event and making sure everything was just right, Associate Academic Dean and Professor Fred Cheever, and Professors Tanya Bartholomew, KK. DuVivier, Mike Harris, Susanna Moran, and Ann Vessels for joining us. Each one of these individuals contributes a great deal of energy and support to the graduate students. And one more luminary: Amelie Daberkow, expected graduate in the class of 2030, who handled the name tags. Muchas gracias, Amelie. Hasta pronto!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

European Energy Giants Active in North American Energy Sector

The rapidly developing internationalization of the energy sector was in full view in the U.S. last week when two major development-related announcements were made by European energy giants E.ON and Gazprom.

E.ON, the German energy giant, has completed a 781 megawatt wind project west of Fort Worth, Texas. Steve Trenholm, E.ON Climate and Renewables chief executive, said, "Completing the world's biggest wind farm took more than a $1 billion investment, coordination with more than 300 landowners, and management of more than 500 workers."

Meanwhile, Gazprom, Russia's largest company, has started trading and marketing natural gas in North America, a development that marks the company's first entry into the United States. "The development of new markets and products is key to Gazprom Group's global energy strategy," Vitaly Vasiliev, CEO of Gazprom U.K., said. "We have now achieved our goal of bringing the world's largest gas company into the world's largest gas market [the U.S.]. Our U.S. affiliate is now off and running, and we look forward to significant growth and profitability from our expanding geographical base."

E.ON has been active in the North American market for some years now, but Gazprom is just getting started. These announcements underscore the fact that energy professionals are very likely, in the course of their careers, to work for non-North American based companies. The energy sector is no longer primarily the domain of a handful of U.S. and U.K. companies -- it's a full blown world market now. And this means major opportunities for those who understand that studying in environments where cross culturalism is embraced -- such as DU -- will likely have an advantage over others for whom these developments are a total surprise.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Cindy Jennings, MRLS 2008 Graduate, Accepted to "Leadship Denver 2010" Class

Cindy Jennings, MRLS 2008 graduate and vice president of marketing and client brand strategy for Cohn Marketing, has been selected to be part of the Denver Metro Chamber Leadership Foundation’s Leadership Denver Class of 2010.

According to the Chamber, "As one of the city’s most prestigious leadership programs, Leadership Denver brings together influential members from local business, nonprofit and government sectors to discuss and learn about the challenges facing the Denver Metro area. The program promotes community stewardship, while creating lifelong networks that foster professional goals."

Notable Leadership Denver Alumni include Colorado Governor Bill Ritter, President and CEO of Mile High United Way Christine Benero, and Elbra Wedgeworth, chief government and community relations officer for Denver Health.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Mining Firms Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton Top U.K. Corporate Governance Survey

U.K. mining giants Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton were ranked first and second respectively in a new survey conducted about corporate governance among the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 companies.

The survey, conducted by Resources Global Professionals, an international business consultancy, ranked companies in more than 60 categories. About 11 percent of the ranking was based on "green-related issues," according to a story in the Financial Times ("Miners Top Governance Survey," Sept. 27, 2009).

The ranking of two mining companies at the top of a distinguished grouping of companies was not necessarily surprising since major mining firms are now taking a closer look at how to preserve (or improve) their corporate reputations. Failure to do so can result in the loss of stock value and lead to higher interest rates, particularly on infrastructure-related loans.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Dr. Anita Halvorsson, Graduate Program Adjunct Professor, Speaks at Singapore Conference on "Sovereign Wealth Funds: Governance and Regulation"

Dr. Anita M. Halvorsson, an adjunct professor at the DU Sturm College of Law, recently spoke at a conference in Singapore entitled "Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs): Governance and Regulation."

Dr. Halvorsson, who regularly speaks about sustainable development-related topics at international meetings, provided this overview from Singapore:
"The goal of the conference was to examine the role that norms and law might have in the context of the future governance and regulation of SWFs. It also included the potential of voluntary regimes, such as the General Principles and Practices of SWFs, adopted in 2008. The five panels were made up of academics, officials from SWFs, the IMF, and also people advising SWFs. The conference was organized by the National University of Singapore Law Faculty and the Asian Society of International Law.

"My paper was entitled 'The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund Addresses the Interrelated Challenges of Climate Change and Sustainable Development – A Model for Regulating Other Sovereign Wealth Funds (SWFs).'

"The Norwegian Government Pension Fund - Global (GPFG) was set up to ensure that the country’s oil wealth can benefit all generations of Norwegians. This long-term goal is to be reached in accordance with sustainable development principles, taking into account economic, social, and environmental concerns.

"In 2004 the Norwegian Parliament adopted ethics guidelines for the GPFG, specifically prohibiting investments that would put the fund at risk of contributing to systematic human rights violations, serious environmental damage, and gross corruption. The GPFG recently underwent an evaluation process. The Norwegian Government has now decided to focus more on environmental, specifically climate change issues, and is considering setting aside some of the fund’s assets for investments in companies developing climate friendly energy and to invest specifically in developing countries. Taking into account the long term nature of the GPFG, the government sees a need to analyze the effects that climate change will have on the financial markets. In addition, it has set out to focus on companies’ impact on climate change, recognizing that if they emit large amounts of green house gases (GHGs) it will entail a cost in the future, thus bringing down the rate of return for the GPFG.

"The purpose of this paper was to examine how the Norwegian government is trying to resolve the challenge of balancing financial returns with sustainable development in regulating the GPFG and the possibility of applying this model to other SWFs. Also I posited the sustainable development needs to be included in the newly adopted General Accepted Principles and Practices (Santiago Principles) for SWFs and I suggested a text for a new GAPP Principle 25.

"Singapore is a wonderful city state, clean, compact and vibrant. It was amazing to be able to see little India, Chinatown, and the Malaysian Heritage Center with nearby Muslim shops all in the space of an afternoon."
Dr. Halvorsson teaches "Sustainable Development Law & Policy" in the autumn and "Climate Change Law" in the spring semesters. Many thanks to her for this informative summary about this importance conference. Students participating in her classes greatly benefit from Dr. Halvorsson's active and influential involvement in conferences on leading issues such as this one.

(The first picture was taken from the window of GIC, one of Singapore's two SWFs; the second picture was of Dr. Halvorsson, on the far left, along with colleagues from Switzerland and Germany.)