Since 2009, the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund, head of the Global Alliance’s Legislative Assistance Working Group, has been in discussions with the Center for Economic and Social Development (CESOD) in Nepal, a civil society organization whose work has increasingly focused on environmental issues. Among its many environmental concerns, a critical issue for Nepal is global warming as the Himalayan glaciers melt.
CESOD contacted the Legal Defense Fund to discuss “rights of nature” and how to include it in the country’s new constitution. Nepal’s constitution drafting process has moved slowly over the past several years, and now the country’s Supreme Court has established a final deadline of May 27 for its completion.
The Legal Defense Fund was invited to Kathmandu by CESOD this spring to meet with members of the Constitutional Assembly to discuss including rights of nature in the new constitution. With the support of the Global Alliance, the Legal Defense Fund’s Executive Director, Thomas Linzey, and Associate Director, Mari Margil, traveled to Kathmandu in April.
CESOD arranged a series of meetings with key members of the Constitutional Assembly, including members of the Constitutional Committee responsible for the final drafting of the constitution, as well as members of the Environmental Thematic Committee, the constitutional drafting committee focused on environmental issues. CESOD also arranged meetings with staff of the Environmental Ministry and the Forestry Department, as well as environmental organizations including World Wildlife Fund-Nepal and the National Trust for Nature Conservation of Nepal.
At each of these meetings, the Legal Defense Fund presented on the rights of nature and why U.S. communities, the country of Ecuador, and others are now seeking to advance a new “rights-based” legal paradigm for protecting nature. The Legal Defense Fund also presented draft constitutional provisions, developed for the Nepali constitution. CESOD and the Legal Defense Fund continue to work together to advance the rights of nature framework in Nepal.