February 18, 2011
ATLANTA – Dr. Romulo Silveira da Rocha Sampaio, an environmental law research professor and coordinator of the Getulio Vargas Foundation in Rio de Janeiro Law School, recently visited Georgia State University College of Law from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil as a guest lecturer on comparative urban growth and management law, providing a unique South American legal perspective.
“In Latin America, for this type of law, it is a very interesting case study, because, where as worldwide the average dwellers living in rural and in cities is pretty much half-and-half, in Latin-American, there are about 80 percent of citizens live in urban areas, which creates all sorts of challenges and obstacles that all Latin-American countries share,” Dr. Sampaio said.
In Brazil, Dr. Sampaio coordinates a multidisciplinary research center that, while linked to the Getulio Vargas Foundation Law School, also has a team of different researchers from a variety of fields, including, finance, economics, political science, statistics and others. Currently, the center is working on several large research projects focusing on the disparity between Brazil’s strong environmental laws and poor enforcement rates, taking into account data of over 130 different variables.
Dr. Sampaio describes some of the Foundation’s work: “We’re trying to identify where we are being weak in implementing laws where they are very strong on the books. The project is six months old now and the first results are due in the next two to three months, but they look very promising.”
This was Dr. Sampaio’s second visit to Georgia State Law. “I never thought to find a center of excellence as I have found here; the students here are very good and are really keep up with the subject and are very interested in land use and urban laws,” said Dr. Sampaio, going on to praise Georgia state students for being interested in international law and challenging themselves to learn more. Dr. Sampaio regards the environmental law climate in the U.S. as diverse but also expresses concern for polarizing political factions.
“The main issue the United States is facing right now, at least seen from the outside, is how to overcome the polarized political debate that has taken over the country’s politics and can be very detrimental to sensitive issues like environmental law,” he said. “Polarized debates are always good in politics, but when it reaches a certain level it starts blocking a lot of progress.
“Environmental law isn’t about law, it’s an environmental paradigm. An enviromnetal paradigm has changed the way law has been interpreted, not only creating a field of environment law, but also creating changes in other, more classic, areas of law, such as property law and constitutional law. The challenge is looking at this area of law as a connector of all the other areas of law and sciences for creative solutions.”
By Abby Ferrell