Being a law student, I couldn’t resist attending the International Development Law Organization’s presentation on Legal Preparedness for the Green Economy. I have always been a bit cynical about the effectiveness of international environmental laws. There are so many issues with implementation and enforcement that they are often neglected soon after the ink dries. In my opinion, regional commitments and individual state laws strengthen obligations and execution of the law becomes more of a reality. This presentation was an excellent overview of the steps several countries have already made and are planning to make towards a more sustainable future. It highlighted the importance of using law making to both remove obstacles and create incentives for sustainable practices on all levels. It is my opinion that these national, state, municipal, and local laws are responsible for the realization of environmental goals and sustainable development.

The Legal Counsel to the Minister of the Environment for Mexico City outlined some of the progressive measures Mexico and its capital have undertaken in the past couple of years. Just outside Mexico City lies the largest landfill in Latin America. In accordance with a recently passed law, the government of Mexico City is in the process of converting the methane gas produced by this landfill into energy – enough to eventually power the city’s entire metro system. This commitment to sustainability is an incredible step for the metropolis that used to top the list of the world’s most polluted cities. If this new agenda is successful for Mexico City, it could serve as an excellent example of the potential for turnaround in even the most polluted corners of the globe.

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