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Stellina Jolly

In the last 30 years, the concept of sustainable development has emerged as the guiding principle of international environmental law. The concept has found overwhelming support in the field of water governance as well. However, in the uncertain context of the Anthropocene and climate change, there have been arguments for the reinvigoration of the sustainable development agenda. In particular, arguments have called for the incorporation of notions of community resilience to promote ecological and social justice. This chapter focuses on the Plachimada groundwater struggle. It provides an analysis of the momentous struggle of the local population of Kerala, India to protect their inalienable right of access to groundwater. Their groundwater had suffered grave depletion through the technology employed by two corporate giants in Kerala. This chapter assumes that building community resilience is crucial for tackling environmental crisis in the uncertain Anthropocene. However, designing governance to build resilience is challenging and complex. Thus, appropriate structures will vary depending on local imperatives. Regardless of the envisaged structure for building resilience, public participation plays a crucial role. The first part of this chapter analyzes the momentous struggle of the local population in Plachimada to protect their right of access to groundwater. The Plachimada groundwater struggle highlights the significance of public participation in building community resilience. The second part of this chapter deals with the evolution of sustainable development within the international legal framework. This chapter attempts to locate the concept of community resilience within the international legal framework and assess its inter-linkage with sustainable development. The final part of this chapter assesses the lessons learned from Plachimada. Accordingly, the final part will propose a basic framework and mechanics, which can be employed by communities in order to build resilience and counter environmental hazards and events within the Anthropocene.

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Stellina Jolly and Zen Makuch

Rising pollution levels, desertification, urbanization, water shortages, climate change and biodiversity losses are some of the well-documented environmental threats facing humanity. Countries at the regional and international level have been attempting to negotiate and agree framework laws and policies to govern activities that protect the environment and advance development. There has been a growing realization at both the national and international levels that the effective implementation of environmental regulations requires balance between developmental concerns and environment protection. Contrary to the passive jurisprudential acknowledgement of this balance in the law lexicon, there is evidence that, in some states, the judicial process has played an activist role in evolving substantive and procedural rules to balance the protection of environment and development. By way of a key example, the Indian judiciary has expanded the ambit of constitutional provisions to incorporate environmental concerns and incorporated international environmental principles as part of domestic international environmental law implementation. Judges have also created unique environmental principles such as the principle of absolute liability, which is gradually finding its way into the international legal framework. Invocation of innovative procedural devices such as public interest litigation (PIL) has also constituted a prominent feature of Indian environmental judicial activism. The doctrine of sustainable development has been adopted as a core principle to balance development and environmental concerns. This chapter explores the central, pivotal role that the judiciary has played in balancing the environment and development.