Setting up a new pathway towards building an eco-humane bond in the glorious beginning of the new year, the Faculty of Law of the University of Colombo is prepared to officially launch its fresh initiative the ‘Centre for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP)’ on the 5th of January 2022. Under the guidance of the Vice Chancellor Professor Chandrika N Wijeyaratne and the Dean of the Faculty of Law Dr. N.S. Punchihewa the founding Director, Dr. Kokila Konasinghe of Faculty of Law with the CELP team is endeavoring to conduct a memorable ceremony which will promote the idea of “Beyond human environment: Defending rights of nature in the anthropocene.”
A number of distinguished scholars representing the environmental spectrum in the national and international contexts will be joining virtually and personally gracing the event including an international right of nature advocate Professor Ashish Kothari, the President of the Network of Asia Pacific Schools and Institutes of Public Administration and Governance Professor Amita Singh, Honourable Minister of Environment Mr. Mahindananda Amarawera, the Chairman of the University Grants Commission Professor Sampath Amaratunga, the Secretary to the Ministry of Environment Dr. Anil Jasinghe, a leading Sri Lankan ornithologist and environmentalist Professor Sarath Kotagama, Mindfulness Programme Developer and Trainer, Senior consultant in Child Rights Dr. Charika Marasinghe, Senior environmentalist and Attorney-at-Law Dr. Jagath Gunawardena and United Nations Development Programme representative Ms. Chandrika Karunaratne. In addition, the members of the board of advisory of CELP, representatives from significant administrative authorities, universities and other educational organisations have also been invited for the ceremony.
Despite the prevailing situation in the country, CELP has successfully completed several landmark accomplishments in providing policy recommendations, publishing books and articles, and collaborating with international and national bodies on environment-related rights/protection. CELP has already contributed to the constitutional reform committee – 2021 by suggesting environmental policy recommendations. In 2020 and 2021, CELP published two compilations of statutory provisions and case law on animal welfare and public nuisance, two subject matters which are considered as less focused areas within the environmental discourse of Sri Lanka.
CELP published the third book in October 2021, titled ‘South Asian Environmental Law Report (SAELR) Volume I’ which marked the first collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Justice (CEJ). The book consists of eight landmark environmental law judgements from the national and regional levels and a case review by a legal expert, the significance of this publication. The CEJ and CELP are now preparing for the upcoming publication, ‘South Asian Journal of Environmental Law and Policy (SAJELP)’, yet another remarkable compilation of articles by highly recognized national and international authors specializing in environmental concerns in South Asia. All these publications have been prepared for the benefit of students, academics, researchers and the general public who are urged to gain knowledge on environmental law and policy.
Several other important projects are lined up for CELP including the publication of a book on multidisciplinary approaches to Environmental Law and Governance in Sri Lanka, and organizing educational workshops for the legislative and judicial members. Recognizing its public responsibility, CELP is also in the process of developing educational and training programmes for the civil society, and organizing webinar discussions with prominent environmentalists and experts on environmental law and policy. Ultimately, CELP aims to promote environmental law and policy in all possible ways within the Sri Lankan academic and administrative sectors and thereby, hopes to become one of the leading legal and policy making institution in endorsing the conservation and preservation of the environment in the country.