Centre for Environmental Law Education, Research and Advocacy(CEERA), National Law School of India University, Bengaluru
According to UNESCO, “Environmental education is a way of implementing the goals of environmental protection. It is not a separate branch of science but lifelong interdisciplinary field of study.” It means education towards protection and enhancement of the environment and education as an instrument of development for improving the quality of life of human communities.
The National Law School of India University, the nation’s premier law university, came into existence through a Notification under the National Law School of India University Act (Karnataka Act 22 of 1986). It signified the culmination of efforts by the Judiciary, the Bar Council of India, the Karnataka Bar Council, the Bangalore University and the Government of Karnataka to reform legal education and to establish a centre of excellence for legal education and research in India.
Environmental Law forms one of the core and crucial area in which endeavours relating to research and education has been stressed upon by the National Law School of India University. There are three Environmental Law Research Centres that currently function in the University, each covering diverse aspects of Environmental Law education and research.
The Centre for Environmental Law Education, Research and Advocacy (CEERA) established in 1997 enjoys the support of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF), Government of Karnataka, the Bar and the Bench in India and several Institutions and Universities abroad. Building an environmental law database, effectively networking among all stakeholders, building up an environmental law community and policy research in the area of environment are CEERA’s main objectives. To achieve these, CEERA attempts to build functional and professional linkages with government agencies and non-governmental organisations in India, the South Asian Region and at International levels. Apart from handling and furthering India’s environmental conservation work involving policy analysis, campaigning, community capacity building and strategic level intervention on critical environmental issues, CEERA serves as a rich resource centre for environmental law teaching and research for both the bachelors and masters courses at NLSIU.
CEERA has also brought out many publications in the area of environmental law along with Newsletters, CEERA March of the Environmental Law, NLSIU’s first e-Journal – Journal on Environmental Law, Policy and Development and manages a website www.nlsenlaw.org.
The Environmental Law Clinic was inaugurated on August 31st 2013 with the vision to educate, equip and help build the environmental law capacity in all concerned to strive for and secure environmental justice. The Environmental Law Clinic initiative was the first of its kind in India and is a torch bearer of the Law School’s mission to translate legal knowledge and skills into an instrument that addresses the various environmental concerns of the country. This it does by providing the forum, facility and tools required for dialogue, deliberations, counselling and negotiations, to arrive at well informed decisions, to secure environmental justice that is rooted in equity (human and natural). A network of Legal Professionals (from the Bar, Bench and Academia), constitute the core group of the Clinic.
The idea for establishing the COMMONS CELL comes from the Constitutional commands of ensuring equity of access, use and management of resources and the obligation of the State to hold the resources in Public Trust. The inability and inadequacy of the legal system in articulating and actualizing this Constitutional aspiration, as evidenced in the deterioration of the environmental conditions made us in the Law School search for paradigms for strengthening and reforming the system through law. The Commons Cell is a unique forum within the Law School that attempts to involve and engage every member of the Law School in its mission and realization of goals.
The Environmental Law Centres at the National Law School of India University over the past two decades have been involved in a number of projects aimed at embellishing the development of environmental law. Some of the recent activities that the Centres were involved in are: “A one week training program for officers of Indian Forest Service on International and National Issues and Mitigation Measures”, 2013 which was done in collaboration with Ministry of Environment and Forest. “A Brainstorming Workshop On Climate Change Legal Force” under the UNFCCC, was organized by the Environmental Research Centres at the Habitat Centre (New Delhi) on 29th May, 2014 and had participants drawn from legal academia, MoE & F, MEA and the NGT.
“A Two Day Training Session On “Environmental Governance And Related Aspects” was organised by CEERA And Commons Cell, NLSIU for 80 Indian Forest Officers at the Indira Gandhi National Forest Academy, Dehradun, on the 16th & 17th June, 2014. On the 20th of November, 2014 “A Brainstorming Session on Climate Change Research” was conducted by the Commons Cell, National Law School of India University. The Commons Cell under the guidance of Prof M K Ramesh is engaged in significant research work on Climate Change under the auspices of MoEF & CC. The objective of this research work was to draft three alternatives for Climate Change Negotiations under the frame of UNFCCC: An Agreement, A Protocol and a third Outcome with legal force.
“A Three day Capacity Building Workshop on “Environmental Legislations: Interpretation and Enforcement” Programme was held at NLSIU in association with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) for the Pollution Control Board Officers from the 11th to 13th February, 2015. And on the 19th and 20th of February, 2015 a unique “Two Day Programme on Renewable Energy Law and Management” was organized by the Centre for Sustainable Development in association with National Law School of India University, Bangalore; supported by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy, Government of India (MNRE).
On the 26th of November, 2015, “ A Brainstorming Session on Evolving a Robust Legal and Administrative safeguard on Sustainable Management of Water Resources” was conducted and on the 8th to 12th of February 2016, “A five day Capacity Building Workshop on Environmental Legislations: Interpretation and Enforcement” for CPCB officers was conducted. “A two day Consultative Conference on Biodiversity Governance for State Biodiversity Boards” was conducted by the Environmental Law Centres in association with the National Biodiversity Authority, Chennai.
Apart from these, the Environmental Law Centres are involved in various projects and educational endeavors like the “Workshop on Environmental Law Education: Awareness and Sensitization” that was conducted on the 5th of November 2016 and our recent endeavor which was a “Two day National Seminar on Sustainable Energy Future in India: Law, Management and Policy” that saw tremendous participation (over 100 participants) from students, researchers and practitioners from across India.