By Lillian Graystone

I had an amazing time in 2015 volunteering with Environmental Justice Australia (EJA) where I worked on a range of public interest environmental law projects and casework. After graduating with my Juris Doctor degree, I spent my summer this year interning with the International Program at Earthjustice in San Francisco. It was a really exciting opportunity to contribute to international environmental advocacy and campaigns, and to develop skills in international environmental and human rights law.

While I was there, I worked on efforts to draw international attention to imminent threats to World Heritage sites including the Sundarbans mangrove forest on the coast of Bangladesh and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. We worked with a number of different international environmental groups and scientists. Together we considered legal strategies to highlight pressures on these places and use international laws to protect them. Countless hours were spent trawling through environmental impact assessments, researching stressors on these areas and considering how different international conventions applied obligations for their conservation.

I worked on campaigns to reduce international coal production and consumption to fight climate change. I spent time researching areas where laws could be reformed with respect to international legal regulatory frameworks for mining rehabilitation and financial assurances. I also contributed to efforts to protect valuable and sensitive places like the Doongmabulla Springs in Queensland from the threat of coal mining by considering different legal strategies to highlight their environmental and cultural significance.

I worked on efforts to draw more public attention to the risk of offshore oil drilling. The proposed offshore drilling in the Great Australian Bight is one area where we identified some serious risks to marine reserves and considered ways that communicating through blogs or petitioning international bodies could be useful to protect the marine environment and those that depend upon it from potential pollution.

One of the best aspects of the internship was working with an inspiring group of talented and dedicated people all passionate about strengthening legal protections for the environment and public health. I left Earthjustice with some great friends, new skills, and satisfaction from working on some truly rewarding projects.

Photo: Me (back row second from the left) with staff from the Earthjustice International Program team and the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense (AIDA) at Tilden Regional Park