ADB’s Office of the General Counsel Launches New Technical Assistance Project to Develop Judicial Capacity for Adjudicating Climate Change Issues

Published on Thursday, 27 April 2017

The Office of the General Counsel’s (OGC) Law and Policy Reform (LPR) Program started in 1995 to support the role of legal systems in the region’s economic development. The central premise of the LPR Program is that a properly functioning legal system is essential to sustainable development. The LPR Program covers broadly five areas – (i) environmental law and sustainable development, (ii) infrastructure law and regulation, (iii) financial law and regulation, (iv) private sector development, and (v) inclusive growth and access to justice. 

The technical assistance (TA) entitled Developing Judicial Capacity for Adjudicating Climate Change and Sustainable Development Issues (TA 9279) falls under the environmental law and sustainable development pillar of the LPR Program. It is designed to provide judges and judicial officers with training and capacity-building programs on environmental, climate change, and sustainable development issues. It serves as a phase 2 TA of OGC’s TA 7735, a regional project entitled Building Capacity for Environmental Prosecution, Adjudication, Dispute Resolution, Compliance, and Enforcement in Asia, which was completed in December 2016. At the regional level, TA 7735 established the Asian Judges Network on Environment (AJNE). AJNE is the only forum in the world that gathers chief justices and senior judges to discuss the effective implementation of environmental treaties and domestic legislation with more than 23 countries’ participation.

At the national level, its achievements included green courts/benches in Malaysia, the Philippines, Pakistan, and Bhutan; a judicial certification program on environment in Indonesia; the South Asian Judges Training Centre on Environmental Rule of Law and Sustainable Green Development in Sri Lanka; a draft law on better environmental adjudication in Thailand; and institutionalization of environmental law as a mandatory subject in judicial academies of Pakistan.

TA 9279 intends to build on the gains established by TA 7735. In addition, judges throughout the region have also realized that more disputes related to climate change will be brought before the courts as the effects and impacts of climate change intensify. The evolving nature of climate change litigation, as well as the rapid development of sustainable development policy and law, requires a thorough and programmatic approach to judicial training and capacity building. TA 9279 is designed to respond to this demand, as it focuses on customized in-country training programs that specifically target capacity gaps and opportunities identified by the requesting country/judiciary.

Activities in the pipeline for 2017 include judicial training courses in Malaysia (July) and Cambodia (August). The training course in Malaysia targets session court judges hearing environmental law cases, while the training course in Cambodia is designed for all levels of the judiciary. Judiciaries from other ADB Developing Member Countries interested in working with ADB under this technical assistance project are requested to liaise with the Law and Policy Reform team.