It is evident that conservation and preservation of natural resources are not novel concepts in South Asia. Conservation of natural resources have been closely interwoven with historical events, reflecting the aspirations and lives of people over many centuries. On the one hand, the South Asian region is deemed as a repository of nature’s wealth consisting of diverse ecosystems which are enriched with a wide range of faunal and floral species. On the other hand, nature has been a significant determinant in the development of civilisation and it has been interlinked to people’s lives to such an extent that separation from it could result in the decline of civilisation itself. Therefore, being the representatives of the natural environment and safeguarding its resources have been carved into the mindset of the inhabitants by the cultural evolution which merged together with the origin of religions. This very association laid the foundations for sustainability and the green movement which were established since the early times and at present, environmental jurisprudence has remarkably progressed into a vast protective mechanism within the region.
The contemporary society displays an unprecedented enthusiasm towards the green movement ranging from the grass-root levels to judicial activism. Despite the concerns for the environment, the South Asian region continues to be susceptible to climate impacts and environmental problems due to the trends in emerging economic and development priorities. As a result, it is most likely that environmental jurisprudence will continue to expand and diversify to address the environmental issues arisen in this region. Undoubtedly, the most progressive aspect within environmental jurisprudence is the contribution made by the judicial organ of nations. Hence, transition from anthropocentric view of environmental protection to eco-centric approach can be traced throughout the judicial interpretations across the South Asia.
The South Asian Environmental Law Reports (SAELR) Vol. 1 is the first collaboration between the Centre for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP) of the University of Colombo and the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ). This publication is intended to not only heighten general awareness among the global legal audience about the rich environmental jurisprudence of South Asia, but also to showcase a few selected landmark cases from South Asia that have significantly contributed to the development of the environmental jurisprudence in domestic, regional and global contexts.
SAELR Vol. 1 presents four landmark judgements from Sri Lanka and one significant judgement from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan respectively. SAELR Vol. 1 is a unique initiative from other collections of legal reports because each landmark case includes a review by a legal expert analysing case fact, the judgement and necessary future developments. Composed of legal academics and lawyers who are particularly interested in environmental protection, CELP and CEJ are dedicated institutions to environmental protection, promotion, justice, research and awareness. Thereby, the members intend to continue to grow their interest in analysing the development in environmental jurisprudence and publish this series of landmark South Asian cases.
The main objectives of publishing SAELR Vol. 1 include showcasing the rich environmental jurisprudence in South Asia, providing wider access to law students, researchers, journalists and the judiciary of the evolution of environmental jurisprudence, and hinting the future judiciary, lawyers, journalists, activists, researchers and students the way forward for a rich environmental jurisprudence. As a concluding remark, given that there are many other momentous judgements, this is only the founding stone of a series of South Asian Environmental Law Reports.
Dr. Kokila Konasinghe Editor-in-Chief Founding Director of Centre for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP)