Planetary Health and legal ramifications

Green Templeton Lectures 2024

Thursday 22 February 2024   17:00 to 18:45


Jojo Mehta, Stop Ecocide co-founder and Executive Director
Thom Wetzer, Associate Professor of Law and Finance, University of Oxford
Moderator: Dr Laurence Wainwright

In the context of the emerging interdisciplinary field of Planetary Health, what is the role of law? What has been missing in this space that has allowed the current multiplicity of crises to arise? Drawing on insights from a uniquely eclectic and effective global advocacy mission towards a law that could prove capable of addressing this gap, Jojo Mehta will weave together threads from cultural anthropology, legal history and social change theory to illuminate the foundational importance of criminal law, invigorate hope and kindle recognition of individual and collective agency.

Thom Wetzer will then reflect on legal innovation to restore planetary health and save the commons. The perspective offered by the notion of ‘planetary health’ invites us to reflect on the interwoven nature of man-made and natural systems. This is not a perspective that legal systems have traditionally championed – in fact, the design of legal systems might have contributed to accentuating the distinction between the two. As the artificiality of that distinction, and the cost of maintaining it, becomes more salient in the form of escalating climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, the law will need to evolve. Thom will discuss that challenge and its economic implications, and share how scientific advances coupled with legal innovation can set a path towards a legal system that will safeguard our commons for the sake of all.

About the speakers

Jojo Mehta Profile Pic With Green Bush BehindJojo Mehta co-founded Stop Ecocide in 2017, alongside barrister and legal pioneer the late Polly Higgins, to support the establishment of ecocide as a crime at the International Criminal Court. As CEO and key spokesperson, she has overseen the remarkable growth of the movement while coordinating between legal developments, diplomatic traction and public narrative.

She is Chair of the charitable Stop Ecocide Foundation and was convenor of the Independent Expert Panel for the Legal Definition of Ecocide chaired by Philippe Sands QC and Dior Fall Sow. The resulting definition, launched in June 2021, has catalysed legislative developments, recommendations and resolutions at national, regional and international levels.

Jojo is a graduate of Oxford and London universities and has a background in communications, entrepreneurship and on-the-ground environmental campaigning. With a natural ability to connect and inspire, coupled with an unshakeable faith in the human imagination and capacity for positive change, she has contributed to UN conferences, diplomatic events, law and business summits as well as podcasts, interviews and articles for publications and broadcasters ranging from TIME magazine to the New York Times and from the Guardian to the BBC.

With representation and associate teams now in over 45 countries, Stop Ecocide International generates fertile collaborations at diplomatic and political level, as well as across civil society with lawyers, academics, corporate influencers, indigenous and faith leaders, NGOs and grassroots campaigns. As a result, legal recognition of ecocide is emerging as a powerful driver of change and a key solution addressing the climate and ecological crisis.

Thom Wetzer Profile PicThom Wetzer is Associate Professor of Law and Finance at the University of Oxford and the Founding Director of the Oxford Sustainable Law Programme. At Oxford, Thom is also a Fellow of Linacre College, Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for New Economic Thinking at the Oxford Martin School, a member of the Leadership Team at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Co-Lead (Law) at Oxford Net Zero, Lead Researcher at the Oxford Martin Initiative for a Net Zero Recovery, and a member of the Oxford-Man Institute of Quantitative Finance.

Thom’s research examines how law and finance can generate value and advance the public good, focusing on how we can build more resilient financial systems, improve the governance of corporations, and tackle the climate crisis. His work combines traditional legal scholarship with financial, scientific, and empirical analysis, and has been published or is forthcoming in Nature, Science, The Journal of Corporation Law, and the Journal of Corporate Law Studies. His research has featured in media around the world, including the Financial Times, Bloomberg, Reuters, and the Guardian. Thom actively collaborates with and advises governments, central banks, corporations, NGOs, and international institutions – including the Bank of England, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund. He is also a Director at the Commonwealth Climate and Law Initiative.

Thom teaches across a range of subject areas, and in 2023 won the teaching award in the MSc in Sustainability, Enterprise and the Environment. Before joining the Faculty, Thom worked towards a DPhil and an MSc in Law and Finance at the University of Oxford, and received both a BA(Hons) in Law and Economics and an LLB in Dutch Law from Utrecht University. He was a Visiting Scholar at Columbia Law School, Yale University, and Berkeley Law School, and worked at the European Commission, Goldman Sachs, and De Brauw Blackstone Westbroek. In 2014, Thom was recognised as a ‘Global Shaper’ by the World Economic Forum.


EP Abraham Lecture Theatre, Green Templeton College

About the series

This is the third and final in the flagship Green Templeton Lectures 2024 on Planetary Health. The series will consider intersections with the stability of financial systems, economics beyond growth, and the legal process. The lectures will be convened by Research Fellow Dr SanYuMay Tun together with Governing Body Fellow Dr Marc Thompson and Research Fellow Dr Laurence Wainwright.

Register now

Fill out my online form.

More information

Please direct all queries about this event to

Type: Lectures and Seminars