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The Indian National Green Tribunal - environmental lessons learned

There has been a global proliferation of Environmental Courts and Tribunals (ECTs). In 2010, the Parliament of India passed the National Green Tribunal (NGT) Act, which resulted in the creation of a specialised tribunal with the power to expedite legal cases pertaining to environmental issues. Professor of Environmental Law, Gita Gill, is an expert on environmental law and sustainability issues. She has devoted the recent part of her career to exploring and analysing the genesis, operation and effectiveness of the NGT.

Professor Gill has many tangible goals to achieve through her research into the NGT. She is providing an analytical account of its judicial structures and an analysis of NGT’s working practices and effectiveness to help it improve. She is also developing a body of evidence to help other countries create effective ECTs.

To achieve her goals, Professor Gill is disseminating the results of her research internationally. Her work is impacting on a range of judges and international policy makers. In 2016, she was invited as an expert contributor on India for the United Nation Environment Programme’s (UNEP) book Environmental Courts and Tribunals: A guide for Policy Makers. The UNEP named her as a Global Environmental Courts and Tribunals Expert – a lauded position as there are only 50 experts worldwide.

In 2017, Professor Gill’s research was recognised in a presentation given by the Hon. Justice Brian J Preston, Chief Judge, Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. It shows how truly widespread and well-regarded her work is in the legal world.

Through workshops, seminars and conference presentations, Professor Gill is sharing the results of her research with the academic community and interested lay public. For example, in 2017, she was a plenary speaker at Adjudication in the 21st Century, a conference in Auckland that brought together a community of international judges, practitioners and academics to discuss the challenges for environmental adjudication in the coming decades. She also contributed to a policy and best practice workshop that received high praise from attendees.

In February 2018, Professor Gill was invited to Geneva. She gave her expert opinion to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on how to enhance accountability and remedy through State-based non-judicial mechanisms ahead of the launch of Accountability and Remedy Project II (ARP II).

Professor Gill is also having impact by publishing the results of her work across different mediums. For example, in 2016 her research was published as a monograph titled Environmental Justice in India: The National Green Tribunal. Lord Carnwath of Notting Hill, Judge of the Supreme Court, UK, described the book as “extraordinary, having global significance”. Moreover, it is being translated into Chinese by Wuhan University China and due for publication in 2018. It is also being used as source material for training purposes supported by Asian Development Bank and IUCN Academy of Environmental Law.

Professor Gill’s current project is underway. In November 2017, she signed a contract with Routledge UK for her next monograph. It will analyse the interrelationship between the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the innovative Social Justice Bench of the Supreme Court of India.

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