Third South Asia Judicial Roundtable on Environmental Justice for Sustainable Green Development

8 - 9 August 2014

Event Tabs

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), in collaboration with the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, recently hosted the 3rd South Asia Judicial Roundtable on Environmental Justice for Sustainable Green Development from 8th to 9th August 2014, in Colombo, Sri Lanka. This is the third leg in a successful series of Roundtables in South Asia organized by the ADB Office of the General Counsel (OGC) under its Law, Justice, and Development (LJD) Program, aimed at building the capacity for environmental prosecution, adjudication, dispute resolution, compliance and enforcement in Asia. Previous Roundtables were held in Bhurban, Pakistan in 2012, and Thimpu, Bhutan in 2013.

The Inaugural Session, which was highlighted by the blaring of traditional drums and lighting of the oil lamp, was attended by the President of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Chief Justice Mohan Peiris, PC, ministers of government, and other dignitaries. Participants from all South Asia judiciaries, as well as legal professionals, civil society members, and experts from various fields from different regions of the world were also present. The ADB delegation to this historic event was led by Vice President Bruce L. Davis, Deputy General Counsel Ramit Nagpal, and SLRM Country Director Sri Widowati. OGC’s organizing team, which includes Grip Bueta, Ces Saniel-Gois, Emie Alcala, and Mahallah Adalia, was led by Ms. Irum Ahsan, Counsel, ADB.

Delegations consisting of Supreme Court Judges and other representatives from South Asian countries were present in Colombo for this Roundtable. The delegations were headed by the following: Hon. Dr. Abdul Malik Kamawi, Member of the Supreme Court and Chief of Public Security Tribunal, Supreme Court of Afghanistan; Hon. Md. Muzammel Hossain, Chief Justice of Bangladesh; Hon. Tshering Wangchuk, Senior Most Judge, Supreme Court of Bhutan; Hon. H.L. Dattu, Senior Most Judge, Supreme Court of India; Hon. Uz. Adam Mhd Abdulla Didi, Justice, Supreme Court of Maldives; Hon. Om Prakash Mishra, Justice, Supreme Court of Nepal; and Hon. Sarmad Jalal Osmany, Judge, Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Other special guests who participated in the Roundtable were: Ms. Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, Director, Division of Environmental Law and Conventions of the United Nations Environment Programme, and Keynote Speaker; Hon. Tun Arifin bin Zakaria, Chief Justice of Malaysia; Hon. Lord Robert Carnwath, Judge, Supreme Court of England; Hon. Adel Omar Sherif, Deputy Chief Justice of Egypt; Hon. Clifford Wallace, Senior Judge, Chief Judge Emeritus, The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit; and Dr. Bakary Kante, Chairman/Managing Director, Africa Sustainability Centre.

Taking off from the previous Roundtables in Pakistan and Bhutan, the event in Sri Lanka sought to not only continue the dialogue and cooperation in the region, but more importantly to look for concrete ways and measures at ensuring the enforcement of and compliance with environmental laws, and the promotion of environmental justice. The 3rd Roundtable continued with the following key themes: i) judicial training and capacity enhancement; ii) regional integration and cooperation; iii) enhancing the efficacy of the judicial/justice system for environmental justice; and iv) application of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods such as mediation/conciliation for better environmental dispute management and enhancing justice. In addition and as the title suggests, the nexus between environment and development was highlighted, noting the importance of nature for economic prosperity in the region. Sessions discussed topics such as natural capital, urban development, tourism, gender, and community forest management. The settlement of environmental disputes, particularly through alternative dispute resolution, as well as innovations in environmental justice and the judiciary’s leadership role were also presented.

The positive and significant impact of this initiative can be seen in the judges present in Sri Lanka, which reflects the trends and developments in their respective jurisdictions. Judges talked about having a social conscience when making decisions, whilst discussing the environmental challenges faced by their country and the entire region. The legal luminaries of South Asia opened their minds to new concepts such as putting a value on nature, considering the environment in urban development cases, and looking at innovative ways to protect the environment. Judges also listened to a 16 year old girl from Pakistan who screened her documentary “Harvesting Hope” and talked about pesticide pollution among women cotton farmers in Pakistan, evoking emotion and even tears from some of the most hardened faces of the justice system.

The participants, led by Chief Justice Peiris who chaired all the sessions, agreed on the adoption of the Colombo Action Plan. He also proposed signing of the Memorandum of Understanding for Cooperation Amongst South Asian Judiciaries during the next Roundtable. These documents not only represents the renewed commitment of the judiciaries of South Asia for environmental justice, but also their dedication to take concrete steps and measures on capacity building, increasing regional cooperation, enhancing the efficacy of the justice system for environmental justice, and application of ADR for better management of environmental disputes.

The Roundtable resulted in: i) consolidation of the progress made so far for the judiciaries of South Asia; ii) crafting of practical and actionable ideas through the Colombo Action Plan; iii) enhanced understanding of the specific issues relating to urban development, natural capital, gender, community forest issues, and tourism; iv) further networking and collaboration among South Asian judiciaries; and v) sharing and exchange of ideas between judges. In addition, ADB in collaboration with the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka, will also engage in post conference activities such as updating of environmental law publications and judicial trainings for Sri Lanka judges on environmental justice.


Thursday, 7 August 2014


Guest Check-in: The Kingsbury, Colombo, Sri Lanka


Welcome Dinner hosted by Asian Development Bank (ADB): The Kingsbury, Colombo, Sri Lanka.


Day 1 - Friday, 8 August 2014

Registration – John Exter Conference Hall, Central Bank Building, Colombo 1.

Day 1 - Inaugural Session


Arrival of VIPs


Arrival of the Chief Guest – H.E. the President of Sri Lanka


National Anthem and Lighting of the traditional oil lamp


Welcome Remarks by Hon. Mohan Peiris P.C., Chief Justice of Sri Lanka


Opening Remarks by Mr. Bruce L. Davis, Vice President (Administration and Corporate Management), ADB


Remarks by the President of Sri Lanka, His Excellency Mahinda Rajapaksa


Group Photo


Tea Break


Keynote Address by Ms. Elizabeth Mrema, Director, Division of Environmental Law and Conventions, UNEP

Asian Judges Network on Environment and ADB’s Role in Strengthening Environmental Governance by Ms. Irum Ahsan, Project Leader and Counsel, ADB



Day 1: Session 1


Presentations by Chief Justices - 10 minutes each (Country Presentations)

Each of the SAARC Chief Justices (or a nominee judge) will make a 10 minute presentation in the form of a country report.

Comments by Panelists: Mr. Bakary Kante (Africa Sustainability Centre), Mr. C. Scott Fulton (US), Mr. Lal Kurukulasuriya (Sri Lanka), and Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria (Malaysia)


Tea Break


Day 1: Session 2

“Taking Stock”: Where We Are on Environmental Justice


Presentation 1 - 15 minutes: Status of the environment, highlighting specifically some of the key challenges impacting the SAARC region by Mr. Sanjay Upadhyay, Managing Partner, Enviro Legal Defence Firm, India

Presentation 2 - 15 minutes: Current trends and developments in environmental principles and jurisprudence by Dr. Bharat Desai, International Law and Jawaharlal Nehru Chair in International Environmental Law, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Special Presentation and Video Screening - 20 minutes: Gender and Environment - Impacts of Environmental Issues on Women, “Harvesting Hope” by Ms. Sarah Khan

Panel Discussion: Panelists - Lord Carnwath (UK), Mr. C. Scott Fulton (US), Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah (Pakistan), and Prof. Camena Guneratne (Sri Lanka)



Signing of the Regional Cooperation MoU and End of Day 1

Dinner hosted by H.E. the President of Sri Lanka

Day 2: Saturday, 9 August 2014


Day 2: Session 1

Environment and Development


Presentation 1 – 15 minutes: Ecosystem Services and Natural Capital by Mr. Chetan Agarwal, Forest and Environmental Services Analyst, India

Presentation 2 - 15 minutes: Green Considerations in Urban Planning and Development by Ms. Saima Amin Khawaja, Partner, Progressive Advocates and Legal Consultants, Lahore, Pakistan

Presentation 3 - 15 minutes: Tourism and the Environment by Mr. Nayana Mawilmada, Urban Development Specialist, Founder and Managing Director, Total Management Solutions, Sri Lanka

Presentation 4 – 15 minutes: Community Forest Management in Nepal and the Judiciary by Justice Ananda Mohan Bhatarai, Acting Chief Judge, Court of Appeal, Nepal.

Panel Discussion: Panelists - Mr. Bakary Kante (Africa Sustainability Centre), Justice Sarmad Jalal Osmany (Pakistan), Justice Tshering Wangchuk (Bhutan), and Mr. Sanith de Silva Wijeyeratne (Sri Lanka)




Tea Break


Day 2: Session 2 Developments in Environmental Adjudication


Presentation 1 – 15 minutes: Nature of Environmental Conflicts and their Resolution by Mr. Ritwick Dutta, Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), India

Presentation 2 – 15 minutes: Environmental Conflicts and ADR / Mediation by Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, Superior Tribunal de Justiçia (Brazil) OR Mr. Harsha Fernando, Attorney-at-Law, Consultant Trainer, Sea-Change Partners of Singapore on Mediation and Negotiation, and Consultant, ADB

Presentation 3 – 15 minutes: Innovation in Environmental Justice and Judicial Leadership by Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Judge, Lahore High Court, Pakistan

Panel Discussion: Panelists - Mr. Lal Kurukulasuriya (Sri Lanka), Dr. Bharat Desai (India), Justice Ananda Mohan Bhatarai (Nepal), and Justice Ashfaqul Islam (Bangladesh)





Day 2: Session 3

Moving forward: Colombo Action Plan


Recap of Pakistan and Bhutan Roundtables and Introduction to Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions

To deliberate and propose a minimum of five action points under each of the following categories:

  1. Judicial training and capacity enhancement;
  2. Regional integration and cooperation;
  3. Enhancing the efficacy of the judicial/justice system for environmental justice; and
  4. Use of ADR (mediation/conciliation and other innovative methods) for better environmental dispute management and enhancing justice.

Tea Break


Final Session: Way Forward


Plenary presentations - 10 minutes each

Each of the four groups, through an assigned rapporteur, will present to the plenary their recommended action points together with the basis of their discussions.

Ten most important points will be selected for implementation as action ideas.


Colombo Action Plan

The delegates/participants will:

  1. Adopt the ten action ideas as "Colombo Action Plan" (CAP); and
  2. Resolve to report back at the next Roundtable the progress made in respect of the MoU and the CAP.

Closing Remarks – Mr. Ramit Nagpal, Deputy General Counsel, ADB

Closing Remarks – Ms. Sri Widowati, Country Director Sri Lanka, ADB

Closing Remarks – Representative of the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka


Dinner hosted by the Chief Justice of Sri Lanka


End of Roundtable


Sunday - 10 August 2014


Delegates depart



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Concept Paper

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Background Paper

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Session 3: Moving forward: Colombo Action Plan

Recap Session

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