Emeritus Professor Koh Kheng Lian named Environmental Lawyer of the Year (ASEAN) 2020

One of the most influential academics in the ASEAN region, Emeritus Professor Koh Kheng Lian from NUS Law, has been named the Environmental Lawyer of the Year (ASEAN) for 2020.

The award, from the Asian Research Institute for Environmental Law (ARIEL), recognised Prof Koh for her 25-year commitment to the Environmental Rule of Law, for her outstanding scholarship in environmental law, and for the promotion of the concept of ASEAN Environmental Law.

In a tribute to Prof Koh, Emeritus Prof Ben Boer from the Sydney Law School and professor at Wuhan University’s Research Institute of Environmental Law, said that Prof Koh is a remarkable academic specialist in environmental law. He noted that she was a consultant to the Asian Development Bank in capacity building for environmental law for the Asia-Pacific region.

An NUS Law alumna, Prof Koh was instrumental in introducing ASEAN environmental law at NUS in 1994. She co-founded NUS Law’s Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law (APCEL), the first in the region, in collaboration with the International Union for Conservation of Nature – World Commission on Environmental Law (then IUCN-CEL) and the United Nations Environment Programme in 1996. APCEL rose to become the region’s reputed centre of excellence for capacity building in environmental law.

Prof Koh has produced over 200 papers on wide-ranging environmental law topics such as ecocide and land-grabbing, and intangible cultural heritage of humanity, such as cuisine.

She had also served extensively in professional international and regional capacities, such as then IUCN-CEL Regional Vice-Chair for South and East Asia; consultant of the capacity building in environmental legal education project for the Asian Development Bank; member of the National Preparatory Committee for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (Focus Group III – Environment Issues) and was also in the National Environment Agency Feedback Group on the United States – Singapore Free Trade Agreement. She currently serves on the Board of Governors of the International Council of Environmental Law, Spain.

Her passion and work in environmental law won her an induction into the Singapore’s Women Hall of Fame in 2014, and the prestigious Elisabeth Haub Prize for Environmental Law in 2012.

For Prof Koh, environmental issues continue to be an important work that she advocates. She said, “Environmental issues straddle the political, economic and socio-cultural pillars of ASEAN, and a knowledge of ASEAN environmental law is crucial as this regional organisation can serve as a platform for cooperation in forging a sustainable future at national, regional and international levels.”