20th annual PIEC looks to the future
piec By Matt Walker
This year may be the 20th annual Public Interest Environmental Conference at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, but rather than looking back at years’ past, the program will look ahead with “Feeding the Future: Shrinking Resources, Growing Population and a Warming Planet.”
The PIEC will focus on the legal and environmental challenges that a growing population, a rapidly changing climate and shrinking natural resources present to agricultural production, and the efforts that are being made to secure intergenerational food security.
The conference will be held Feb. 20 – 22 at UF Law. To register and view the complete agenda, visit the PIEC website.
Keynote speakers will be former Florida Gov. Buddy MacKay and Dickson Despommier, a professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University.
The conference will also feature a number of panels and workshops dealing with topics including urban agriculture, GMOs, food security, agricultural pollution, wetlands exemption and challenges of food safety and environmental protection.
The Public Interest Environmental Conference provides a forum for an exchange of ideas among private, government, and public interest lawyers; students and academics; environmental professionals, advocates and activists, and the interested public.
Kenneth Hood “Buddy” MacKay Jr.
During his 30-plus years in public service, MacKay focused on improving the quality of life for Floridians, preserving and protecting Florida’s environment, and ensuring the fiscal responsibility of government. MacKay served in the Florida House of Representatives, the Florida Senate, and the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected lieutenant governor in 1990, running on the ticket with Gov. Lawton Chiles. MacKay served a brief stint as governor following the sudden death of Chiles.
In addition to being a full-time professor in the Department of Environmental Health Sciences at Columbia University, Despommier is the director of the Vertical Farm Project which addresses issues related to urban agriculture, environmental disturbance, and the restoration of damaged ecosystems. The project was started in 1999 as a classroom activity in Despommier’s Medical Ecology course. During the ten years that followed, numerous articles in the popular press (NY Science Times, Popular Science, New York Magazine, Time Magazine, Scientific American) and interviews on and radio and television shows (including the Colbert Report) have featured his concept of farming in buildings situated inside the city limits.