Wil Burns is a CIGI senior fellow with the International Law Research Program, effective July 2015. At CIGI, he will research and author a special report on the application of a human rights-based approach to climate geoengineering. Wil is also providing advice to UNFCCC negotiators at the 21st Conference of the Parties in December 2015.
Until recently, Wil served as director of the Energy Policy & Climate Program at Johns Hopkins University, and now serves as co-director of the Forum for Climate Engineering Assessment, a scholarly initiative at the School of International Service at American University in Washington, DC. He also serves as the co-chair of the International Environmental Law Committee of the American Branch of the International Law Association.
Wil is the former president of the Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, as well as co-chair of the International Environmental Law interest group of the American Society of International Law. He previously taught at Williams College, Colby College, Santa Clara University School of Law and the Middlebury Institute of International Studies of Middlebury College. Prior to becoming an academic, Wil served as assistant secretary of state for public affairs for the State of Wisconsin and worked in the non-governmental sector for 20 years, including as executive director of the Pacific Center for International Studies, a think tank that focused on implementation of international wildlife treaty regimes, including the Convention on Biological Diversity and International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling.
Wil has published more than 75 articles in law, science and policy journals and has co-edited four books. His current areas of research focus are: climate geoengineering; international climate change litigation; adaptation strategies to address climate change, with a focus on the potential role of microinsurance; the effectiveness of international treaty regimes to conserve cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises); and how to effectively operationalize the precautionary principle in international environmental treaty regimes. Wil holds a Ph.D. in international environmental law from the University of Wales-Cardiff School of Law.