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Environmental Adjudication in the Anthropocene

Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 18:00 to 19:30

Venue: 
Russell Square College Buildings, Room 4426
Speaker: 
Professor Gitanjali Nain Gill, School of Law, Northumbria University

The age of Anthropocene has brought with it multiple challenges that disrupt Earth system processes resulting in the planet becoming increasingly dangerous, unpredictable, unstable and incompatible with human existence. The role of a specialised, responsive and transformative judiciary is critical in recognising, developing and interpreting environmental laws moving, albeit slowly, from an anthropocentric to an eco-centric approach. Facilitating innovative judicial leadership in the Anthropocene epoch requires the judiciary to reframe its thinking, and the application of environmental principles and adjudicatory processes at international and domestic fora. Centralising scientific experts (an epistemic community) within an adjudicatory setup would determine pathways and provide future course of actions for a collective, symbiotic, inter-disciplinary, wise and timely decision-making. This would harmonise legal norms with scientific knowledge and promote ecological justice aimed at protecting and respecting the Earth and its system and ensuring equitable and social welfare of the people. India’s green judiciary, in particular the National Green Tribunal (NGT), is an example of its transitional move through substantive and procedural creativity in the current socio-ecological crisis. The juristic and scientific interventions through interpretation of environmental constitutionalism alongside participatory and access rights provide responses and offer some redress resulting in an incremental move towards an ecological nature based policy orientated approach. It has resulted in ground breaking, new insights about the appropriateness and feasibility of ecological discourse. The Indian judiciary is unlikely to be the panacea for all environmental ills but it can provide a lead in terms of transforming environmental adjudication in the Anthropocene.

About the speaker

Professor Gitanjali Nain Gill joined the School of Law, Northumbria University in 2011 where she holds a Chair in Environmental Law. Previously, Prof. Gill was employed at India’s leading University, Faculty of Law, Delhi University. Her research reflects thematic issues including the importance of access to justice in environmental matters, promotion of a human rights agenda, sustainability and good governance in Asia with the focus on India. She was awarded Fellowships by UNITAR, British Council, Cardiff University and a British Academy Research award that supported her field work and research on the innovative National Green Tribunal (NGT) India.  Her project focused on the NGT as one element of a reformist approach to environmental governance and explores its working and effectiveness. She is widely published on environmental law in India. Her research findings and conclusions were published in her book ‘Environmental Justice in India: The National Green Tribunal’ (Routledge, 2017). Her research agenda continues to focus on India and also includes comparative work within China.

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