Asian judges look to protect the environment

Published on Thursday, 5 December 2013

The Asian Judges Network on the Environment has been formally launched in Manila, marking a new stage of cooperation among justices on enforcing environmental laws and helping to preserve the region’s nature.

“Chief justices and the senior judiciary play a critical role in improving environmental enforcement and strengthening the rule of law,” Asian Development Bank (ADB) general counsel Christopher Stephens said in an official release.

“They can champion and lead the rest of the legal profession, the law enforcement community, and broader public toward rule of law systems that promote environmental justice.”

The three-day 2nd Asian Judges Symposium on Environment drew together eminent judges and representatives of courts, environment ministries, prosecutor’s offices, the legal profession and civil society from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.

The ADB hosted the event in partnership with the Supreme Court of the Philippines, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Freeland Foundation. It builds on work started in 2010, where the region’s justices called for an Asian Judges Network on the Environment and have been working on realizing that ever since.

Nature is under threat from the human appetite for resources and from damaging practices like illegal logging, wildlife poaching, destructive fishing activities and pollution.

The symposium covered a broad range of topics, including recent judicial innovations in environmental cases in the region, and increasing understanding of the true economic value of natural capital and its contribution to socioeconomic development. The network is the culmination of work begun at the 1st Asian Judges Symposium on the Environment held at ADB headquarters in 2010.

The ADB, under its environmental law, justice and development program, is helping to generate knowledge on environmental challenges among judiciaries and to strengthen the capacity of judges to decide environmental cases and share experiences.

Along with hosting sub-regional roundtables on the environment for senior judges from ASEAN member countries and South Asia, the ADB has also worked on programs with national judiciaries.

[Sourced from: The Jakarta Post, Jakarta]