Professor Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger awarded world’s first Visiting Chair in Sustainable Development Law and Policy in the University of Cambridge

Marie-Claire Cordonier SeggerBuilding on a highly successful Leverhulme Trust Visiting Professorship, BSIA Fellow Professor Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger commences her new visiting chair in sustainable development law and policy at the University of Cambridge with creativity, courage and commitment.

As the world recovers from a devastating pandemic, countries and communities are scaling up efforts to implement international accords addressing pressing global sustainability challenges such as climate change (SDGs 7 & 13) and biodiversity loss (SDGs 14 & 15), to poverty and hunger (SDGs 1 & 2), access to health and education (SDGs 3 & 4), gender equality (SDG 5), access to clean water and energy (SDGs 6 & 7), and justice (SDG 16) as part of a common global policy agenda by 2030.

However, significant gaps remain between 169 ambitious targets under 17 SDGs and the law and policy capacity required by current and future decision-makers across governments, inter-governmental organizations, academia, civil society and practitioners. To bridge these ‘capacity chasms’, a new online education and engagement programme on ‘democratising education for global sustainability and stewardship’ is being launched to strengthen law and policy skills, knowledge and expertise worldwide.

As visiting chair, Professor Cordonier Segger, together with Cambridge PhD Candidate Tejas Rao as Research Coordinator and Assistant Editor, and Cambridge MPhil alumnus Maeve McDermott as Programme Coordinator, will direct and scale up a world-class programme ofengagement and online learning focused on widening participation in global sustainability solutions, by democratising education among current and future law and policy leaders whose knowledge, skills and decisions can advance the world’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). She leads a small team delivering a high-quality new online education programme on the SDGs, law and policy innovation in collaboration with global initiatives of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL), and with partners from across the University of Cambridge including world-leading research institutions such as Bennett Institute for Public Policy and the Centre for Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Governance (CEENRG). The programme engages renowned experts from the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law (LCIL), the Centre for Science and Policy (CSAP), the Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISDL), the Hughes Hall Centre for Climate Change Engagement, Cambridge Zero and others, as co-hosts and partners in the Vice-Chancellor’s Lecture Series on Globalization, Sustainability and the Power of Ideas, and supports ongoing educational offerings through Cambridge Advance Online and the Institute for Continuing Education, among others. It is housed at Lucy Cavendish College in the University of Cambridge, and supported by a generous gift from the Moore Foundation.

Professor Cordonier Segger noted, “In today’s world, faced with rising climate change, biodiversity and human rights emergencies, global cooperation for sustainability is crucially important. To have a hope of compliance with binding international stewardship obligations, we need to dramatically accelerate sustainable development solutions on the ground, and to bridge ‘capacity chasm’ among current and future law and policy decision-makers across all legal systems and societies. It is deeply inspiring to contribute to new education and engagement in this emerging field, in response to justice challenges of our century.”

The overall aim is to inspire, educate and engage present and future generations of law and public policy leaders from diverse backgrounds, contributing to global sustainability. The new programme will develop and disseminate a suite of new online courses which confront shared global sustainability challenges, backed by online leadership/learner support, building crucial capacity to respond to the world’s biodiversity and climate emergencies as a distinctive new feature of the University of Cambridge’s educational offerings related to sustainable development. The team aims to ensure that learners from around the world, and under-served groups from law, policy and practice communities charged with implementing international accords on sustainable development and the SDGs in particular, gain improved access to the world-leading expertise available across the university’s research centres and institutes, including their inspiring international initiatives, partnerships and networks. Professor Cordonier Segger returns to the University of Cambridge after a brief sabbatical as a senior visiting professor at Yale Law School to take up her new role, which is held alongside her professorship of international law at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island in Canada, host of a world-leading indigenous law degree (JID) and one of the first UN-accredited International Training Centres for Leaders (CIFAL) on the SDGs in North America.

Professor Cordonier Segger is available for interviews and expert advice,arranged through the Chair’s Assistant Editor and Research Coordinator Tejas Rao at

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