Brazilian Environmentalist Professor Paulo de Bessa Antunes Named Recipient of the 2022 Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy

September 6, 2022
Paulo Bessa

The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University has announced that the 2022 Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy will be awarded to Professor Paulo de Bessa Antunes, an environmental scholar and leading professor of environmental law at Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro, and head of the Environmental Practice of Campos Mello Advogados (Brazil). Professor de Bessa Antunes was also a Haub Visiting Scholar at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law in the spring of 2019.

Professor Bessa will receive the 2022 Award in recognition of his tireless advocacy to support the development and implementation of laws protecting the environment in Brazil, including filing several successful lawsuits to protect the environment over the three decades he worked in the Federal Public Prosecution Service. These lawsuits resulted in the establishment of the Reserva Beach protected area in Rio de Janeiro; the destruction of highly toxic PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), so that they were not released into the environment; and the abandonment of plans to construct a bridge in indigenous territory over the objection of the indigenous Xerente. In gratitude, the Xerente presented him with an honorary citizenship.

Professor Bessa is a leading contributor to, proponent, and defender of the environmental rule of law in Brazil. He is the author of several books, including the seminal text Direito Ambiental, and articles and his work is regularly cited by Brazilian courts, including the Supremo Tribunal Federal (Federal Supreme Court). He is also influential in influencing public environmental policy, exhibiting courage and leadership by co-authoring an open letter critiquing political roll backs in Brazilian environmental policy. He has taught, mentored, and inspired generations of students and young lawyers to care for their country's environmental heritage through law.

The prestigious Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy was established in 1997 by the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, in cooperation with the Haub Family, to honor the legacy of Elisabeth Haub (1899–1977), a noted philanthropist and advocate for strong laws for the conservation of nature. The award is chosen yearly by an esteemed jury of individuals and was first established to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Stockholm Conference and the 5th anniversary of the United Nations Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit.

“The Elisabeth Haub School of Law’s No. 1 ranked environmental law program continues to train lawyers to understand the intersection between climate justice, the environment and the law,” said Haub Law Dean Horace E. Anderson Jr. “We are honored this year to recognize Professor Paulo de Bessa Antunes for his pioneering work in the protection of the environment in Brazil, especially at such a critical moment with rising levels of illegal deforestation in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest.”

“We are honored to present Professor Bessa with the Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy. His exemplary contributions as an innovator, author, leader, and fearless champion of environmental and indigenous rights issues embodies the very spirit of Elisabeth Haub’s advocacy,” said Jason Czarnezki, Associate Dean of Environmental Law Programs and Strategic Initiatives, and Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law. “His achievements in the field are unparalleled.”

“The Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy recognizes the innovation, skill, and accomplishments of lawyers, diplomats, international civil servants and other advocates who work to create the world environmental order,” said Pace University Trustee Liliane A. Haub. “It is our hope that with this award, we are making a statement in support of those individuals and communities who are fighting to create a more sustainable planet.”

The ceremony for the 2022 Elisabeth Haub Award for Environmental Law and Diplomacy honoring Professor Paulo de Bessa Antunes will take place on Tuesday, November 8th at 6:00 EST and be broadcast virtually to accommodate a global audience. REGISTER HERE.

About Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University

Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University offers JD and Masters of Law degrees in both Environmental and International Law, as well as a Doctor of Juridical Science (SJD) in Environmental Law. The school, housed on the University’s campus in White Plains, NY, opened its doors in 1976 and has more than 9,000 alumni around the world. The school maintains a unique philosophy and approach to legal education that strikes an important balance between practice and theory. Haub Law launched its Environmental Law Program in 1978, and it has long been ranked among the world’s leading university programs, with a current #1 ranking by U.S. News and World Report. Pace’s doctoral graduates teach environmental law at universities around the world. Pace’s JD alumni are prominent in environmental law firms, agencies and non-profit organizations across the U.S. and abroad. In 2016, the Law School received a transformational gift from the family of Elisabeth Haub, in recognition of its outstanding environmental law programs. For more information about Haub Law, visit

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