Generally the Environment and Natural Resource Laws Center has three main project Components. 1) Awareness Creation, advocacy and lobbying 2) Undertaking research projects that focus on the Legal dimensions of Environment and Natural Resource management; 3) Opening up Masters Program in the areas of Environment and Natural Resource Laws.
- I. Advocacy, Promotion and Lobbying
This component of the project is mainly designed to raise the awareness of the government officials-Wereda, Zone, and Regional level, judges and prosecutors, land administrators and land administration personnel, the wider mass about the impacts of environmental degradation, deforestation, industrial pollution and waste. This part of the project also focuses assisting individuals whose rights to use the land and other natural resources are affected. Under this component, trainings, workshops, seminars, advice and representation, experience sharing, and Moot Court competition are the core activities undertaken.
Training forms on of the core components of the center. With the view to successfully conducting the training, the center announced an open call for the academic staff of the School. Interested applicants submitted their CV and based on relevant experiences a-team for training manual development and organizing training was established and the team signed a contract specifying the action plan. Based on the action plan training was successfully undertaken in 5 zones of the Tigray region. 150 participants from all Werdas of the region working as zonal desk officers, Wereda judges, Wereda public prosecutors, Wereda environment protection and land administration experts were in attendance in the training provision. The feedbacks given in the training were documented and later used in the development of the curriculum and further intervention of the Center.
Awareness raising within the Campus: Student club organization
The center envisions assisting student organizations and raising awareness on environmental concerns within the campus. As such, the center assisted student origination called Mekelle University Law School Association (MULSA Club) to celebrate environment day within the campus.
Regarding the promotional activities, Regional and National visit of governmental and nongovernmental offices local administration, universities, and other institutions aimed at
- Creating cooperative networks
- Experience sharing
- Collection of key resource materials
- Promotion of the centre and its activities
- Invitation and call for utilization of the services to be offered by the centre
- Collection of general information as to the situation of the environment and natural resources related issues, laws, institutions etc is designed.
The plan is well drafted and endorsed by the department with a detailed proposal and coast breakdown. Accordingly the regional visit is successfully undertaken and the results are reported and recorded for further use. The national visit is already underway with a successful visit to Addis including the Federal organs and institutions in Addis. The preparation is finalized to undertake the remaining visits according the plan.
These experience sharing visits were part of the promotional activities were designed to create awareness on the part of the public and private institutions regarding the protection and promotion of Environment and Natural Resources. In this regard a half day in house workshop was organized for the staff of the School of Law. In the work shop the full project document for the centre was distributed to the staff. Additionally a presentation and explanation was provided in view of creating awareness and enhancing the support and active participation-of the staff as primary actors and implementers of the activities of the centre. Activities designated to ensure the proper functioning and operation of the centre in relation to linking and networking with stake holders, supporters and beneficiaries are identified.
Moot Court Competition
The Center operated, among others, with the objective of creating a knowledge base to be utilized by stakeholders that will help to raise the awareness of the public, the legislature, government officials, judges, legal practitioners, NGOs, students and other concerned organs on environmental issues. To achieve this objective, the establishing document of the Center provides various activities including organizing moot competitions. Accordingly, the Center developed Action Plan aiming at organizing a series of moot court competition on selected environmental and natural resource law issues in Ethiopia. With the objective of inculcating court culture and courtroom manners among law students and make them conversant with issues related to environment and natural resource laws, the moot competitions were classified into two categories, namely in-house and national moot court competitions.
The in-house moot encompasses undergraduate law students at Mekelle University, who have taken procedural courses and basic Environmental and Human Rights law courses. The students were expected to be in a group of three individuals of whom at least one should be female. The finalists are expected to represent Mekelle University at the national moot court competition. The various activities in these competitions include development of the hypothetical case, announcement and promotion, selection of competitors and organizing the moots. With regard to the national moot completion, the Center is intending to host participants from eight Universities. The activities include, case development, rules and procedures development, announcement and promotion, case dissemination and registration, memorial reception and selection reception and organizing the moot.
In the series of National Moot Court competition different groups of individuals were participated. Students, staff members, university community and experts from different offices both governmental and nongovernmental were participated. The judges in the Moot Court were selected from the Supreme Courts, Anti-Corruption commission, Environmental Offices and environmental experts working on environmental areas. The final Moot Court competition was held in Axum Hotel and it was open attended by higher regional and federal government officials, university management, academic and support staff of the university, students and other stakeholders. The Moot Court competition was a big event that has raised enormous awareness on environmental rights and environmental wrongs.
- II. Researches
Following its establishment and as per the annual plan of the Center and the project document, the Center conducted and is conducting many research activities. As one of the many objectives of the Center was undertaking researches that focus on legal dimension of the environment and natural resources management and awareness raising on the part of the wider public. As part of the research activities, the Center conducted one research that deals with Preliminary Survey (baseline survey) on Environment and Natural Resources. The very purpose of the research was to conduct research that would be used as a baseline survey and need assessment that used an initial step that would help for further research activities of the Center. Regarding the Preliminary survey research team has been established and necessary staff members are assigned based on an open and transparent competition. The final document of the research project was submitted and it was given to editors and reviewers for their comment. The reviewers reviewed and their comments forwarded to researchers for further enrichment of the findings of the survey. A workshop was conducted. The workshop was attended by representatives from concerned regional and zonal offices including some selected Weredas (local governments)
Following the completion of the preliminary survey (baseline survey) research in 2011 and presentation in a workshop and taking the input of the participants four small scale and two medium scale researches thematic areas were identified. The main document and minutes of the workshop were distributed to staff and based on the indentified thematic areas, research call was announced. Based on the call applications was received and the Center conducted proposal defense in an open public inquiry. After conducting the defense, two medium scale and four small scale researches were approved.
Taking the baseline survey as benchmark and based on the recommendations, areas of intervention were identified and defined. Accordingly further research activities and specific projects aimed at realizing the objective of the center were designed. The baseline survey was also a key resource that will serve as important indicator for the post graduate programme to be established as part of the center. The courses in the PG will reflect the objective problems as identified in the baseline survey and related documents.
Following the presentation of the findings of the Preliminary survey on Environment and Natural Resource Laws, four small scale and two medium scale researched are being undertaken..
Thematic areas and research ideas are identified through an in-house workshop.
The one large scale research is changed in to two medium scale researches. Five small scale and two medium scale research proposals were submitted and evaluated in an in-house workshop. The researchers have signed a contract and the research activity is underway and shall be finalized by Dec, 2013. All researches are undertaken in Teams and more than 30 staff members have participated.
-Towards establishing an environmental information system: A right perspective to address environmental Challenges in Tigray (Small scale)
-Legal empowerment of the regulatory environmental administrative institutional frameworks of the Regional Sate of Tigray: Analysis of the Law and the Practice (2000-2004) (Small Scale)
-The application of public Interest litigation for environmental pollution in Tigray (Small Scale)
-Urban Land Acquisition and transfer under Ethiopian Land lease Law (Small scale)
-Urban Waste management and Disposal in Tigray: Legal and institutional analysis with insights to the practice (Medium Scale)
-The role of Justice Organs in Forest protection in the Tigray Regional State (Medium Scale)
III. Opening Postgraduate Program
The Environment and Natural Resource Laws Center finally envisions opening postgraduate program in the areas of environment and natural resources laws. Opening of the master’s program is aimed at delivering long term training to solve the problems of human renounces in the country in general and in the region in particular. Accordingly a task force for curriculum development was established and the team has signed a contract specifying the action plan. Based on the action plan the team has undertaken a field trip to relevant institutions for a survey and need assessment. The Curriculum Team has conducted need assessment in different governmental and nongovernmental institutions. The need assessment results were analyzed and reported to the Center. The Team also prepared draft curriculum and was presented in an in-house workshop for comments. After gathering the feedback in the workshop, further curriculum work was undertaken and again presented in a workshop. The Team has finally submitted its final curriculum to the Center. The Center has sent the approved curriculum to the School of Law for consideration and the School on its part has approved the curriculum. Now the School has finalized course syllabus development and course reader preparation for the effective delivery of the courses.