Futures of Environmental Law Teaching in Asia and the Pacific
Environmental legal education activates the virtuous cycle of knowledge transfer required to influence sustainability outcomes in government, private sector, academia and other spheres. Nevertheless, investment in environmental legal education is lacking and increased resources and support must be provided to environmental law educators to keep them sufficiently equipped and inspired to help achieve inclusive and sustainable development.
It has been 30 years since the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development (Earth Summit) where Agenda 21 was adopted as a means of implementation. Agenda 21 stressed the importance of environmental legal education and capacity building. Since then, various development partners and institutions have been working to strengthen and expand environmental law expertise particularly in universities, governments, private sector and civil society.
In the Asia and the Pacific region, in 1995, through ADB’s technical assistance on Capacity Building for Environmental Law Training in the Asia and the Pacific Region, ADB, UNEP, IUCN and National University of Singapore worked together to provide two intensive regionally focused environmental law courses through a train-the-trainers (TTT) model which trained 63 law professors from 15 countries. The technical assistance significantly contributed to environmental law institution building and training of environmental law professors in the region.
In 2015, ADB launched its next iteration of its technical assistance called the “Developing Environmental Law Champions Program”. This phase supported a regional network of leading environmental law educators from 14 ADB developing member countries in the delivery of in-country TTT programs and expansion of national and regional networks. These leading environmental law educators currently serve as ADB country focal points and provide strategic direction and guidance to ADB’s Developing Environmental Law Champions Program.
In 2017, the current phase of the Developing Environmental Law Champions Program was approved. This current phase has been focusing on and mainstreaming environmental legal education in institutions and/or countries across the Asian region, curriculum development and move towards hybrid and online education. This current phase of ADB technical assistance will be completed end of December 2022.
As a culminating event under the current phase of ADB’s Developing Environmental Law Champions Program, this Regional Roundtable will be held to do a stock-take of environmental legal education in the Asia and the Pacific including an assessment of ADB’s Developing Environmental Law Champions Program.
Furthermore, it will be an opportunity to collectively consider the preferred future of environmental law teaching. Through tailored future foresight sessions integrated into the Regional Roundtable, ADB country focal points and other participants will consider the plausible futures of environmental law teaching in Asia and the Pacific region, as well as the emerging trends, threats and potential disruptions and what do we need to do today to be ready for the possible futures.
Through the futures foresight sessions, participants will develop (i) a vision statement on environmental law teaching in Asia and the Pacific and (ii) an action plan for the next five years including capacity building and resourcing needs which will feed into the next phase of the Developing Environmental Law Champions Program.
Regional Roundtable participants will be comprised of ADB country focal points and other environmental thought leaders and key development partners such as ADB and UNEP.
Additionally, alongside the Regional Roundtable, ADB and UNEP will hold special evening sessions with Siem Reap participants from businesses, civil society, academia and government on intersection between environmental governance and tourism.
 Bangladesh, Cambodia, PRC, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Viet Nam.