Law Students Produced the First Ever Legal Publication on Facemask Pollution in Sri Lanka
The concluding ceremony of the 9th annual Law Goes Green (LGG) project organized by the Faculty of Law was held on the 10th of June 2022 at the New Arts Theatre. This year’s theme ‘Global Face Mask Pollution’ is a very timely topic, in the backdrop of the COVID-19 Pandemic which affected the entire world’s health, economy and unfortunately, the environment as well. While face mask pollution affects both developing and developed countries alike, the challenges posed to developing countries are comparatively greater than that of developed countries. The project included several components which were completed in several stages.
In the first component, the Law Goes Green 2022 team organised a workshop for the school children and invited them to participate in the “reclaim the mask with rework” competition by creating new designs using recycled facemasks. This competition gave an opportunity to school children to combine their innovativeness, sustainability and creative ideas and produce new designs from recycled facemasks. Out of a large number of entries fifteen students who had prepared outstanding designs were selected. They were invited to the ceremony with their teachers and parents and presented with awards and certificates.
An international webinar was organised by the Centre for Environmental Law and Policy of the University of Colombo and the Asian Pacific Centre for Environmental Law of the National University of Singapore as a component of the LGG Project. Undergraduate Students from both universities shared their research on the comparative legal and regulatory solutions to tackle the problem of facemask pollution. It was a great opportunity that the Centre for Environmental Law and Policy of the University of Colombo has offered to guide the Law Goes Green 2022 team to work in the global context. The newly launched Centre for Environmental Law and Policy specialises in environmental protection and conservation within the university system of Sri Lanka.
There was also a component where the social awareness on facemask pollution was spread within the University premises by using environment friendly signboards. This was further enhanced by distributing the Law Goes Green 2022 themed T-shirt and a reusable facemask within the University community. This facemask was designed in collaboration with the University of Peradeniya. The final stage was the launching of the LGG 2022 publication which is the first ever legal publication on facemask pollution in Sri Lanka. It studies the existing parameters of the destruction caused by facemasks and thereby suggests to reform the laws and policies to control the use and release of facemasks in day-to-day life. This demonstrates that the University of Colombo encourages the students to broaden the applicability of theoretical subjects and knowledge, and thereby contribute to the legal literature of the country.
The fourth year law students organized the Law Goes Green project in collaboration with the Centre for Environmental Law and Policy (CELP). Professor Kokila Konasinghe, Mr. Isuru Liyange and Ms. Pavithra Rajendran, the course team for Environmental Law, provided guidance for the project. Dr. Jagath Gunawardhena, Environmentalist and Attorney-at-law, participated in the ceremony as the Chief Guest. Vice Chancellor Senior Professor (Chair) H. D. Karunaratne attended the ceremony as the Guest of Honour. Dean of the Faculty of Law Professor Sampath Punchihewa, Head of the Department of Public and International Law Professor Wasantha Seneviratne, Head of the Department of Private and Comparative Law Dr. Udapadie Liyanage, Head of the Department of Commercial Law Mr. Menaka Harankaha and the Founding Director of Centre for Environmental Law and Policy of the Faculty of Law, Professor Kokila Konasinghe were also present at the ceremony. Law students representing all four years of the LL.B. performed several cultural events on environmental conservation and preservation. The ceremony also celebrated the winners of the all-island school competition for innovations using discarded face masks. The organizing committee also launched the first ever legal publication on face mask based pollution at the ceremony.
The Guest of Honour, Vice Chancellor Senior Professor H.D. Karunaratne emphasised that the ‘Law Goes Green 2022’ project is a great example of how the University of Colombo strives to provide the best education opportunities to all the students specialising in various fields of study and encourages innovative and creative thinking, social skills and personality development while fulfilling their duties as the responsible future generation of this country.