“Climate Change, Resource and Infrastructure Use: Emerging Regional and International Law Issues” — Francis Botchway

Francis Botchway

Francis Botchway

Transboundary resource exploitation and environmental responsibility

Francis Botchway is the associate dean for research at Qatar University School of Law and presented on transboundary resource exploitation and environmental responsibility both in regards to Qatar and globally.  Qatar is not alone in these issues, but is uniquely affected because of its location in the middle east.

 

As the middle east and Qatar continue searching for more oil and gas reserves, border questions become more predominant issues.  Without clear, defined, and undisputed borders it isn’t clear what country is entitled to profit off discovered reserves– particularly true for underwater resources.  Indeterminacy can be problematic, but as Francis notes, it can also promote neighborliness, technological advancements, peace promotion, and unsuitability of adversarial winner-takes-all for trans-boundary resource disputes.

 

Indeterminacy and joint development offer alternatives to traditional border disputes.  They allow countries to share the benefits of resources and lessen long-term disputes between nations.  However, indeterminacy and joint-development also open up a whole new set of conflicts regarding possible environmental degradation.

 

When environmental conflicts arise, joint development brings questions of whether or not to use public or private international law, jurisdiction, forum, sovereign immunity, and costs.  Countries are frequently in agreement that they want to exploit resources, but there is significantly less congruity on how to split up the resources and assess liability in the chance that conflict does arise.

 

Moving forward, we need to recognize that transboundary resource exploration and exploitation will continue to present us with these issues.  Francis stressed the importance of approaching these projects with a worst-case-scenario frame of mind from the very beginning.  It is vital that joint development projects set aside funds to handle environmental crisis in the event that they occur.  Further, all joint development projects need to include provisions that address what to do if environmental crises are to occur.  Preemptive action needs to be taken to protect individuals and the environment in these regions and changes in joint development law and policy need to reflect that.

 

As we continue to move forward with oil and gas exploration and exploitation, we need to adapt our laws and policies to adequately address any potential crises that spring up.  Francis is doing incredible work to address these issues in Qatar and his approach to these issues will hopefully be followed by others.  At the end of the day, these issues are inevitable, but with the right approach to the law and policy surrounding them we can address them in a more manageable way.

 

Blog Post By: Kelsey Baack

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