Shared Environmental Concerns Between India and Pakistan

Policy Paper
Nov. 11, 2014

This paper is a unique opportunity to examine the environmental challenges of India and Pakistan, the two neighboring nations perhaps most important in South Asia, and what they can hope to learn from each other in a new era of political engagement. It looks at each country’s unique constitutional position on the environment and some shared concerns, challenges, and opportunities in the development of environmental law. Seven broad issues are discussed, including regulatory mechanisms on environmental law compliance; strengthening institutions for environmental decision-making; capacity-building of substantive and procedural environmental laws with a focus on executive institutions; the role of environmental law; and the shift in corporate governance from social responsibility to environmental responsibility.

The paper then addresses some unique environmental concerns in each country, including critical habitats, ecologically vulnerable wetlands, and other sensitive areas where lessons can be drawn from each other. Another focus is on the relevance of tenure security and local community participation in ensuring conservation. The paper also discusses the issues and challenges of shared resources, such as trans-boundary rivers and groundwater resources involving shared aquifers. Despite the differing economies of scale, there are similar challenges in India and Pakistan on environmental law compliance and the need for institutional development and stronger environmental decision-making, and there is a lot they can learn from each other.