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In Memoriam: Meinhard Doelle (1964‑2022)

Posted by Schulich Law on September 21, 2022 in News
Meinhard Doelle
Meinhard Doelle

It is with deep sadness that the Faculty of Law shares the news of the sudden passing of our beloved colleague, friend, and environmental law scholar, Dr. Meinhard Doelle, on September 17, 2022.

Meinhard was born in Dortmund, Germany on May 25, 1964. He earned a BSc from Dalhousie in 1986, an LLB from Dalhousie in 1989, an LLM from Osgoode Hall in 1991, and a JSD from Dalhousie in 2005. He was admitted to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1990. He started his career as a law professor at Dalhousie University in 2003. He was also the Associate Dean (Graduate Studies) at the Schulich School of Law at the time of his passing.

Professor Doelle’s research interests involved the intersection of environmental law, energy law and climate change. He served as drafter of the NS Environment Act and as policy advisor on the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act in 1992. From 2000 to 2006, he was a non-governmental member of the Canadian delegation to the UN climate change negotiations. He continued to follow the negotiations as an official observer. From January to May 2008, he was a visiting scholar at the Environmental Law Center of the IUCN in Bonn, Germany. He co-chaired a strategic environmental assessment on tidal energy in the Bay of Fundy from 2007 to 2008 and served on the Lower Churchill Joint Federal-Provincial Review Panel from 2009 to 2011. He was also the Canadian Chair of Marine Environmental Protection at the World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden, from 2019 to 2021.

In 2013 to 2014, Meinhard co-chaired a provincial panel on aquaculture, collaborating with colleague and friend Professor Bill Lahey.

“Meinhard and I did some very meaningful work together, including on aquaculture, and he was very proud of what we had accomplished for the environment and Nova Scotia. He had a gift for collaboration and as collaborators we completed each other,” says Professor Lahey. “He was the most decent and generous of human beings and I will miss him dearly, especially our talks about our families, in which his love for Wendy and their girls always shone through brightly.”

Meinhard has written on a variety of environmental law topics, including climate change, energy law, invasive species, environmental assessments, and public participation in environmental decision-making. His book projects include “Research Handbook on Climate Change Law and Loss & Damage”, “Environmental Law: Cases and Materials”, “Promoting Compliance in an Evolving Climate Regime”, “The Federal Environmental Assessment Process, a Guide and Critique", and "From Hot Air to Action: Climate Change, Compliance and the Future of International Environmental Law".

His teaching within the law school involved courses in environmental law, energy law, climate change, and contract law. He served as the Associate Dean (Research) from 2012 to 2017, and the Associate Director of the Marine & Environmental Law Institute from 2004 to 2012 and the Director from 2013 to 2016. He was also involved in interdisciplinary teaching outside the law school, most notably at the College of Sustainability, where he co-taught a course on Humanity in the Natural World.

Throughout his time at the faculty of law, Meinhard was recognized by his colleagues for his knowledge, collegiality, kindness, and dedication to teaching and to students.

On behalf of all who knew Meinhard, we extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to his family, especially his wife Wendy and his three daughters. He will be greatly missed by the law school community. He leaves a huge gap, captured well by Dr. Sara Seck, one of Meinhard’s colleagues who worked closely with him on many projects.

“It was an incredible privilege to work with Meinhard at Dalhousie. We shared a commitment to climate change research, editing a book on loss and damage published just last year, and we had many future collaboration plans. It is impossible to describe how well regarded he was by environmental law professors across Canada, by interdisciplinary impact assessment researchers, and by the international environmental law community, especially climate and oceans researchers, around the world. Above all, he was kind and tremendously supportive of junior colleagues everywhere, as well as graduate and undergraduate students. In Nova Scotia, everywhere I turn in the area of environmental law has his footprint on it. Meinhard is simply irreplaceable and will be tremendously missed.”

The family of Meinhard Doelle and the Schulich School of Law will honour and remember him at a ‘Trauerfeier’ (a coming together in grief) on Tuesday, September 27, 2022 from 5-7 pm in the Atrium on the second floor of the Weldon Law Building (6061 University Ave., Halifax, NS).

A Celebration of Life will take place at the Dalhousie Student Union Building in the McInnes Room on Wednesday, September 28, 2022 at 6 pm. A full obituary can be found online here.