BRICs Law and Policy Dialogue at CEL Conference in New Delhi

IUCN Commission on Environmental Law Conference on Climate Change Law and Governance in South Asia - BRICs Law and Policy Dialogue on Climate Change, Sustainable Energy & Biodiversity’. Venue: Auditorium, India International Center Annex, Lodhi Estate, New Delhi.  Date: August 20-21, 2010.

Workshop Report by Prof Brendan Mackey, PhD, The Australian National University

BRICS dialogue at the CEL Climate Change Law and Governance Conference, New Delhi

This dialogue addressed one of the most important and urgent issues of our era – human forced climate change. However, its focus was novel in that this challenge was examined from the special perspectives of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China). The dialogue’s theme was also unique in considering BRIC climate change issues from a legal perspective inclusive of energy and biodiversity considerations. A stellar cast was assembled including specially filmed video presentations from some participants unable to attend in person. This was a much welcomed innovation that should be further explored in future meetings. Among other things, it helps reduce the carbon foot print of the meeting and enables a broader base of global contributions.

As is usual with CEL events, the legal perspective was never limited by a narrow, positivist view of law. Rather, a comprehensive legal approach was promoted enriched by ethical, scientific, socio-cultural, economic and political considerations. The Dialogue progressed through these perspectives culminating in consideration of the requirements for ‘effective climate change governance’. Our thinking on this theme was greatly stimulated by the presentation from Dr. Navroz Dubash, Senior Fellow, Center for Policy Research, New Delhi, and Ms. Patti Moore, Head, Regional Environmental Law Programme, IUCN, Bangkok.

Prominence was given amongst the speakers to the host country’s (India) situation and climate change policies to date. The presentation by Ambassador Dasgupta, Distinguished Fellow, TERI and Former Member, Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Climate Change, was particularly helpful in this regard. As a citizen of a country (Australia) where climate change has been high on the public agenda for many years, I was impressed by the depth and breadth of India’s governance responses – laws, policies and programmes of various kinds – that are addressing in a substantial way many of the root causes of climate change (such as the ineffficient use of energy and deforestation). Most importantly there seems to be widespread understanding in India that climate change solutions must be embedded within a comprehensive national approach to sustainable development. By comparison, Australia has yet to see such a comprehensive national approach to climate change law and governance.

There were a number of presentations of particular note that reflected the kind of insight that can only be gained from decades of experience in international relations on issues of environment, development and climate change. The closing remarks of Mr. Nitin Desai, Member, Prime Minister’s Advisory Council on Climate Change, and Former Under Secretary-General United Nations, rang true and cut straight to the heart of the challenges the world community faces in addressing the climate change problem.
CEL is to be commended for its efforts in instigating the BRICs Law and Policy Dialogue series. I am sure that the meetings to be held in Russia, China and Brazil will shed new light on how these nations are confronting the difficult problems associated with climate change, energy and biodiversity. There is much to be learnt of practical value from these exchanges.

Work area: 
Environmental Law
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