Lecture with Namita Wahi
Climate devastation is upon us. Soon to overtake China as the world’s most populous country, India’s climate related commitments and the measures she takes now will determine the future of not only her own people but the whole world. Underscoring her role as a global climate leader, India has assumed the presidency of the G20 this year with the theme “One Earth, One Family, One Future”. India’s mitigation strategy is focused primarily on investing in renewable energy, energy conservation and efficiency, and planned afforestation. As per government estimates, 24% of India’s geographic area is under forest cover. Despite increasing recognition of the role of indigenous communities in protecting forests better than state-run forest departments in India and all over the world, both in the Indian government’s “National Climate Mission”, and in its Nationally Determined Contribution pursuant to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, indigenous communities are conspicuous by their absence.
Home to the world’s largest indigenous population, India has pioneered protections for Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes (STs) in its Constitution and through various laws enacted over the past 75 years which have created a plural legal framework for protecting rights of Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes. The most important amongst these is the Forest Rights Act, (“FRA”) enacted in 2006 to overturn centuries of injustice involved in outlawing forest-dwelling communities, mostly STs, by colonial forest laws of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this talk, Wahi will describe how indigenous imagination encapsulated within India’s Forest Rights Act, 2006 not only protects the rights of Adivasis or Scheduled Tribes in India but potentially also provides a hopeful blueprint for mitigating climate effects through the protection and regeneration of forests.
Namita Wahi is a Senior Fellow at Centre for Policy Research, where she leads the Land Rights Initiative, and a Visiting Fellow at the Centre for Law and Social Transformation in Bergen. She holds a doctoral degree from Harward Law School, and her research interests are in the areas of property rights, social and economic rights, and eminent domain or expropriation law. She has written extensively on these issues in various academic journals and edited volumes, as well as newspapers and magazines. Namita has taught courses in these areas at Harvard University, both at the Law School and the Department of Government, and at the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata.
The seminar is part of the RDV-webinar series, a collaboration between the Centre for Research on Discretion and Paternalism and the Centre on Law and Social Transformation at the University of Bergen. The RDV-webinar series is an interdisciplinary webinar where we invite national and international researchers to talk about their pioneering research on topics regarding law, democracy, and welfare. The webinars are held monthly on selected Thursdays, from 14:15-15:30 (CET / GMT+1).