Asia-Pacific Judicial Conference on Climate Change: Adjudication in the Time of COVID-19

9 - 11 December 2020

Event Tabs

The emergence of COVID-19 has brought major challenges to all peoples of the world in unexpected ways. Many point to our unabated abuse of nature as the underlying cause of this pandemic. It has amplified numerous existing challenges such as weak health institutions and lack of social protection for the most vulnerable. It has also added to the already alarming issue of rapid climate change, presenting more complexities for the processes of adjudication and the achievement of climate justice. There are growing calls for the global community to act on climate change with the same rigor and intensity as the COVID pandemic. It is clear that without urgent action, the consequences of runaway global warming will far outweigh the impacts of the virus. Judiciaries around the world must continue to dispense justice for people and the environment in this “new normal”. Creative and innovative responses by judges are key to ensuring that our recovery from this pandemic will move towards a just, resilient, responsible, and sustainable normal, where the health of people and nature are balanced, and principles of environmental law and justice are at the center of recovery plans.

This virtual conference, the Asia Pacific Judicial Conference on Climate Change: Adjudication in the Time of COVID-19, is a continuation of the annual gathering of judges under the banner of the Asian Judges Network on Environment. The event is co-organized by the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Environment Programme, with support from the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment and ClientEarth. The conference will bring together judges from South and Southeast Asia, Northeast Asia, the Pacific, and other regions to highlight the need for urgent action and to continue to address the climate crisis. Increasing climate litigation, especially in Asia and the Pacific, requires judges to be able to adjudicate in bold, innovative, and sometimes imaginative ways. Judges can play a pivotal role in shifting and influencing pandemic-recovery policies towards those that address the causes and effects of climate change as a priority. Judges thus need to ensure access to justice and ongoing adjudication of environmental cases, including those on climate change, despite the continuing challenges associated with COVID-19, in order to pave the way for a great societal “reset” and sustainable recovery.

The Conference is divided into a pre-conference Webinar, three Technical Sessions and a participatory Breakout Session.

The pre-conference webinar on Judges as Emergency and Disaster Managers will discuss climate and COVID-related litigation, and identify the role of courts and judges in this discourse.

  • The first technical session of the conference, on Climate Change, Sustainable Habitats, and Zoonosis, will begin with the scientific context of zoonosis – providing the background of the current pandemic. This will be followed by an analysis of how pandemics can be averted through ecosystem resilience and promoting environmental rights and justice.
  • The second technical session - Judicial Techniques: Adapting to the “Smart Normal”-will explore how judges and legal practitioners can cope during these times. The presentations will explore access to justice issues during the pandemic, including the issues associated with “virtual” courtrooms, while discussing judicial challenges and innovative solutions.
  • The breakout session will involve the allocation of all participants to electronic ‘breakout rooms’. Each breakout room will have a separate topic for discussion, and will be moderated by a designated chair, working with a rapporteur. At the conclusion of the breakout room discussion, there will be a plenary session to enable a report to be given by each breakout room group.
  • The final technical session, on The Great Reset - Recovering from COVID-19 in a Resilient, Responsible, and Sustainable Way, will explore the path that the global community should take in the post-COVID world, through a combination of “resets” and continued climate action.

Agenda as of 7 December


(The recording can be viewed here.)


Introductory Session
Judges as Emergency and Disaster Managers

Facilitator: Ms. Irum Ahsan, Project Leader and Advisor, Office of the Compliance Review Panel, Asian Development Bank

  1. Testing the Limits of State Power in Climate and COVID Litigation: A Global Comparative Analysis (15 minutes) - Hon. Antonio Herman Benjamin Justice, High Court of Brazil (Superior Tribunal de Justiça)
  2. The Role of Judges in Climate Governance and Discourse (15 minutes) - Hon. Susan Glazebrook, Justice, Supreme Court of New Zealand; President-Elect, International Association of Women Judges
  3. Judicial Challenges for Litigation In the time of COVID (15 minutes) - Hon. Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Justice, Supreme Court of Pakistan
  4. Strategic Climate Litigation in the Wake of COVID-19 (15 minutes) - Prof. Jolene Lin, Director, Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law, National University of Singapore


Day 1: 9 December 2020


3:00pm – 4:30pm
8:00am – 9:30am
4:00pm – 5:30pm
1:30pm – 3:00pm
New Delhi
3:00am – 4:30am
New York
8:00pm – 9:30pm
7:00pm – 8:30pm

Inaugural Session
Adjudication in the Time of COVID-19

Facilitator: Ms. Irum Ahsan, Project Leader and Advisor, Office of the Compliance Review Panel, Asian Development Bank

Welcome Remarks by the Asian Development Bank (5 minutes)
Mr. Thomas M. Clark
General Counsel, Asian Development Bank

Remarks from United Nations Environment Programme (5 minutes)
Ms. Maria Socorro Manguiat
Head, National Law Unit, Law Division, United Nations Environment Programme

Remarks from the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment (5 minutes)
Hon. Antonio Herman Benjamin
Justice, High Court of Brazil (Superior Tribunal de Justiça)

Keynote Address: COVID 19 and Climate Change (15 minutes)
Mrs. Mary Robinson
Former President of Ireland and Founder Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice

Happy Launch of the ADB’s Reports Series: Climate Change - Coming Soon to a Court Near You
Ms. Irum Ahsan
Project Leader and Advisor, Office of the Compliance Review Panel, Asian Development Bank
Ms. Briony Eales
Climate Change Law and Policy Specialist (Consultant), Asian Development Bank
Ms.Maria Cecilia Sicangco
Knowledge Management Specialist (Consultant),
Asian Development Bank

Asia Pacific Launch of UNEP 2020 report on the global status of climate change litigation (15 minutes)
Mr. Michael Burger
Executive Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law; and Senior Research Scholar, Columbia Law School

Virtual Group Photo via Zoom (5 minutes)


Day 2: 10 December 2020


10:00am – 11:00am
3:00am – 4:00am
11:00am – 12:00nn
8:30am – 9:30am
New Delhi
10:00pm – 11:00pm
(December 9)
New York
3:00pm – 11:00pm
2:00pm – 3:00pm

Technical Session 1
Climate Change, Sustainable Habitats, and Zoonosis

Facilitator: Prof. Ben Boer, Wuhan University and University of Sydney

  1. The Biological Scientific Context for Zoonosis (15 minutes) - Prof. Kris Helgen, Chief Scientist and Director, Australian Museum Research Institute
  2. Averting Pandemics and Enhancing Ecosystem Resilience: Applicable Legal Frameworks (15 minutes) - Prof. Nicholas Robinson, Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University
  3. Upholding environmental rights and justice to avert future pandemics (15 minutes) - Dr. Musonda Mumba, Chief, Terrestrial Ecosystems Unit, United Nations Environment Programme

15 minutes for Q&A


11:00am – 12:00nn
4:00am – 5:00am
12:00nn – 1:00pm
9:30am – 10:30am
New Delhi
11:00pm – 12:00mn
(December 9) New York
4:00pm – 5:00pm
3:00pm – 4:00pm

Technical Session 2
Judicial Techniques: Adapting to the “Smart Normal”

Facilitator: Mr. Andrew Raine, Head International Environmental Law Unit, Law Division, United Nations Environment Programme

  1. Virtual Courtrooms: Technical and Jurisprudential Challenges and Solutions (15 minutes) - Senior Commissioner Susan Dixon, New South Wales Land and Environment Court
  2. Remote Evidence Gathering Solutions in the Asia-Pacific Context (15 minutes) - Ms. Vidya Viswanathan, Director, Environmental Justice Program, Center for Policy Research
  3. Access to Justice/Social Justice in a Post-COVID-19 World (15 minutes) - Atty. Marlon J. Manuel, Senior Advisor, Legal Empowerment Network

15 minutes for Q&A


Day 3: 11 December 2020


10:00am – 12:00nn
3:00am – 5:00am
11:00am – 1:00pm
8:30am – 10:30am
New Delhi
10:00pm – 12:00mn
(December 10)
New York
3:00pm – 5:00pm
2:00pm – 4:00pm

Breakout Session and Plenary Reporting / Panel Discussion
Sustainable Judicial Capacity for Adjudicating Environment and Climate Change Cases during and Post-COVID

Overall Facilitator:
Prof. Ben Boer, Wuhan University and University of Sydney
Mr. Gregorio Rafael P. Bueta, Legal and Policy Specialist (Consultant), Asian Development Bank

Participants will break out into facilitated smaller groups to discuss the topic. Groups will then report back to the Plenary. Reporting will be in the form of a panel discussion, led by a moderator, and composed of each group’s facilitator/rapporteur.

Topics to discuss:

  1. Impediments to environmental and climate justice;
  2. Digital tools for environmental adjudication
  3. Strengthening existing judicial and academic networks on environmental and climate law;
  4. Innovative approaches that judges can explore to strengthen environmental and climate law enforcement; and
  5. New principles for judges to consider.

Plenary (30 minutes)

Open discussion with the Panelists and the Participants (5 minutes per breakout topic - focus on 3 actions for the future)


12:00nn – 1:00pm
5:00am – 6:00am
1:00pm – 2:00pm
10:30am – 11:30am
New Delhi
12:00am – 1:00am
New York
10:30am – 11:30am
4:00pm – 5:00pm

Technical Session 3
The Great Reset—Recovering from COVID-19 in a Resilient, Responsible, and Sustainable Way

Facilitator: Ms. Georgina Lloyd, Regional Coordinator, Environmental Law and Governance, United Nations Environment Programme Environment Programme

  1. Green Recovery: The Great Reset and Climate Actions (15 minutes) - Prof. Christina Voigt, PluriCourts - Centre for the Study of the Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order, University of Oslo; and Chair-Elect of IUCN-WCEL
  2. Accelerating the Net Zero Transition: Corporate and Financial Law Implications of the Green Recovery (15 minutes) - Mr. Peter Barnett, Southeast, East and South Asia Lead, ClientEarth
  3. Presentation of the Conference Statement (15 Minutes) - Prof. Ben Boer, Wuhan University and University of Sydney

15 minutes for Q&A

Closing Session

Moderated by: Ms. Christina Pak, Principal Counsel and Team Leader, Law and Policy Reform, Asian Development Bank

Closing Remarks from United Nations Environment Programme
Ms. Georgina Lloyd
Regional Coordinator, Environmental Law and Governance, United Nations Environment Programme

Closing Remarks from Asian Development Bank
Ms. Irum Ahsan
Project Leader and Advisor, Office of the Compliance Review Panel, Asian Development Bank


Mary Robinson

Mary Robinson

Former President of Ireland
Founder Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice

Mary Robinson is Adjunct Professor for Climate Justice in Trinity College Dublin and Chair of The Elders. She served as President of Ireland from 1990-1997 and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997-2002. She is a member of the Club of Madrid and the recipient of numerous honours and awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the President of the United States Barack Obama. Between 2013 and 2016 Mary served as the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy in three roles; first for the Great Lakes region of Africa, then on Climate Change and most recently as his Special Envoy on El Niño and Climate. Her Foundation, the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, established in 2010, came to a planned end in April 2019.

A former President of the International Commission of Jurists and former chair of the Council of Women World Leaders she was President and founder of Realizing Rights: The Ethical Globalization Initiative from 2002-2010 and served as Honorary President of Oxfam International from 2002-2012.

Mary Robinson serves as Patron of the International Science Council and Patron of the Board of the Institute of Human Rights and Business, is an Ambassador for The B Team, in addition to being a board member of several organisations including the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the Aurora Foundation. She was Chancellor of the University of Dublin from 1998 to 2019. Mary’s memoir, ‘Everybody Matters’ was published in September 2012 and her book, ‘Climate Justice - Hope, Resilience and the Fight for a Sustainable Future’ was published in September 2018.


In Alphabetical Order

Peter Barnett

Peter Barnett

Southeast, East and South Asia Lead

Peter Barnett is a Senior Lawyer at environmental law NGO ClientEarth. He leads ClientEarth’s climate and energy work in Southeast, East and South Asia. Peter’s work focuses on the intersection between climate change and corporate and financial law, including green finance and shareholder climate activism and litigation.

Before joining ClientEarth, Peter practised at specialist litigation firm Boies Schiller Flexner in London and Russell McVeagh in New Zealand. He has substantial experience in international corporate and financial litigation and commercial and investor-state arbitration. He is a member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR.

Peter has also represented NGOs and public sector bodies in public law litigation and in advocacy before UN treaty bodies. He began his career as a Judge’s Clerk at the High Court of New Zealand.

Peter holds a Master of Laws from Harvard Law School and a Bachelor of Laws (with First Class Honours) and Bachelor of Commerce (Finance) from the University of Otago. He is qualified as a lawyer in New Zealand (non-practising) and England and Wales.

Antonio Herman Benjamin

Antonio Herman Benjamin

High Court of Brazil (Superior Tribunal de Justiça)

Prof Dr. Dr. h.c. Antonio Herman Benjamin is a member of the National High Court of Brazil (STJ), Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, and Secretary-General of the UNEP International Advisory Council for Environmental Justice. He has published over thirty books and articles on Environmental Law.

Justice Benjamin is the original proponent and a leading advocate of the Global Judicial Institute for the Environment, which was launched during the 1st World Congress on Environmental Law, held in Rio de Janeiro in April 2016. In addition to the several awards that he received in Brazil and abroad, Justice Benjamin is a Knight of the National Order of the Legion of Honor of the Republic of France and a Commander of the Order of Leopold of the Kingdom of Belgium, awards bestowed on him in recognition of his global public service.

Michael Burger

Michael Burger

Executive Director, Sabin Center for Climate Change Law
Senior Research Scholar, Columbia Law School

Michael Burger is the Executive Director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, and a Senior Research Scholar at Columbia Law School. His research and advocacy focus on legal strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote climate change adaptation through pollution control, resource management, land use planning and green finance. Burger frequently collaborates with researchers across Columbia's Earth Institute, and with local and national environmental groups, government representatives, and international organizations. He is a widely published scholar, a frequent speaker at conferences and symposiums, and a regular source for media outlets. He is the editor of two recent books: Combating Climate Change with Section 115 of the Clean Air Act: Law and Policy Rationales (2020) and Climate Change, Public Health and the Law (2018). He also is of counsel at the environmental law firm Sher Edling LLP. Prior to joining the Sabin Center, Burger was an associate professor at Roger Williams University School of Law, an assistant professor in the Lawyering Program at New York University School of Law, and an environmental attorney for New York City’s Office of the Corporation Counsel. He is a graduate of Columbia Law School and of Brown University and holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from the Creative Writing program at NYU.

Thomas Michael Clark

Thomas Michael Clark

General Counsel
Asian Development Bank

Mr. Clark holds a Doctor of Laws degree from Columbia University, where he was Notes Editor of the Columbia Law Review, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Government from Harvard University. He has over 30 years of experience in legal and government affairs practice, spanning the financial services, energy and infrastructure sectors. After a judicial clerkship on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, and legal practice at the law firms of Sullivan & Cromwell in New York and WilmerHale in Washington, D.C., Mr. Clark joined the General Electric Company, one of the world's largest infrastructure and technology companies. His 22-year career at GE included 16 years based in Japan and covering the Asia-Pacific region, as General Counsel for GE's largest Asian financial services arm, and as Executive Counsel for Government Affairs and Policy, working with regulators and governments throughout the region on key legal and policy initiatives, and holding leadership roles in industry associations and private sector advisory bodies for APEC and ASEAN. Most recently, Mr. Clark was Managing Director and Co- Head of Americas for the Global Public Policy Group of BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset management firm, where he drove regulatory policy engagement and thought leadership on infrastructure finance, ESG and sustainability, disclosures related to climate risk and energy transition issues, data privacy and fintech. As General Counsel at ADB, he is responsible for driving legal strategy and engagement on public policy reforms to support ADB’s mission of achieving a sustainable, prosperous, inclusive and resilient Asia-Pacific region

Susan Dixon

Susan Dixon

Senior Commissioner
New South Wales Land and Environment Court

Susan Dixon is the Senior Commissioner of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales. Prior to being appointed in January 2018, Ms Dixon served as a full time Commissioner of the Court from 2009 and the Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of the Court from 2004 to 2009. She is an Australian lawyer, having worked in private practice for 12 years before moving to the public sector in 2002. Ms Dixon has a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Laws from Macquarie University. She is a Nationally Accredited Mediator. Ms Dixon also acts as a Mining Commissioner with the Court and before her appointment was in-house counsel in the Department of Primary Industry and Mineral Resources and also a Senior Member of the Consumer, Trader and Tenancy Tribunal. She has extensive experience in planning, environmental, local government, resource and administrative law. Ms Dixon is an occasional university lecturer in environmental litigation and alternative dispute resolution at the University of Sydney, Macquarie University, Sydney, and in environment law and mining and petroleum law at the University of Technology, Sydney, and the University of Notre Dame, Sydney. She has been involved in a number of Court facilitated environmental capacity-building programs, including for judiciaries throughout Asia.

Susan Glazebrook

Susan Glazebrook

Supreme Court of New Zealand

Justice Susan Glazebrook has an MA (1st Class Hons), an LLB (Hons) and a Dip. Bus (Finance) from the University of Auckland and a DPhil from the University of Oxford in French legal history. Justice Susan Glazebrook was appointed to the High Court in June 2000, the Court of Appeal in May 2002 and the Supreme Court in August 2012.

Before being appointed to the Bench, she was a partner in law firm Simpson Grierson and a member of various commercial boards and government advisory committees. She served as the President of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association in 1998.

Since becoming a judge, Justice Glazebrook has served as a member of the Advisory Council of Jurists for the Asia-Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions from 2002 to 2010 and from 2007 to 2012 chaired the Institute of Judicial Studies, the body responsible for judicial education in New Zealand. She is currently the President-Elect of the International Association of Women Judges.

In 2014 Justice Glazebrook was made a Dame Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the judiciary.

Kristofer Helgen

Kristofer Helgen

Chief Scientist and Director
Australian Museum Research Institute

Professor Kristofer M. Helgen is Director and Chief Scientist of the Australian Museum Research Institute (AMRI), responsible for more than 100 staff, including research scientists, collection scientists, and collection officers, and more than 100 associates, fellows and students, who research and explore today’s major scientific challenges.

Professor Helgen research focus is primarily on fieldwork with living animals and research in museum collections to document the richness of life, explore global change, and contribute to important problems in biomedicine. Before joining the Australian Museum he was Professor of Biological Sciences at the University of Adelaide, and from 2008-2017 he served as Curator-in-Charge of Mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., overseeing the world’s largest museum collection of mammals and most-visited public mammals gallery. Professor Helgen originally hails from Minnesota in the United States and gained his undergraduate degree in Biology at Harvard University and his Ph.D. in Zoology as a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Adelaide.

Professor Helgen has an outstanding global track-record and he has conducted field research in more than 50 countries documenting some 100 previously overlooked species of living mammals. He has a deep understanding of museums and museum collections, and experience leading major expeditions in the Asia-Pacific and around the world. A dedicated public communicator in support of biodiversity discovery and conservation, Professor Helgen’s expeditions and discoveries have been featured in two major documentary series by the BBC Natural History Unit and are regularly profiled in the media.

Jolene Lin

Jolene Lin

Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law, Law, National University of Singapore

Jolene is director of the Asia-Pacific Centre for Environmental Law and Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, National University of Singapore. Her main areas of expertise are climate change law and transnational environmental law. She is author of Governing Climate Change: Global Cities and Transnational Lawmaking (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and co-editor of Climate Change Litigation in Asia Pacific (Cambridge University Press, 2020). She has also published in leading international journals including the European Yearbook of International Law and American Journal of International Law.

Amongst her international appointments, Jolene is a member of the advisory board for the University of Strathclyde's LLM in Climate Change Law and Policy. She is a co-rapporteur of the International Law Association’s study group on “The Role of Cities in International Law”. Jolene is on the editorial boards of Journal of Environmental Law, Chinese Journal of Environmental Law, and Climate Law, as well as the advisory board of Transnational Environmental Law.

Before joining NUS, Jolene was associate professor of law at the University of Hong Kong where she also served as Associate Dean of International Affairs (2014-2016) and director of the faculty’s student exchange program (2008 -2016). Jolene was also a member of the Appeal Tribunal Panel (Building Ordinance) and the Appeal Board Panel (Town Planning) in Hong Kong. Jolene has served as consultant to the Hong Kong Department of Justice, international NGOs, the United Nations Environment Programme, and global law firms. Jolene graduated in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She holds an LLM from New York University and a PhD. in law from Erasmus University Rotterdam.

Maria Socorro Manguiat

Maria Socorro Manguiat

National Law Unit, Law Division, United Nations Environment Programme

Maria Socorro Manguiat, a Senior Legal Officer at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has been practicing environmental law for close to 25 years. She began as a Legal Officer at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) of the Philippines in 1996, where she worked on a broad range of environmental issues including pollution, environmental impact assessment, and climate change. In 1999 she joined the secretariat of the Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia, focusing on integrated approaches in managing land and water uses as part of a State's coastal and marine policy. In 2001 she moved to the Environmental Law Center of the International Union for Conservation of Nature where she examined the links between biological diversity and climate change. From 2006 to 2016 she worked at the secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, where she provided legal advice on a variety of legal issues and was part of the Drafting and Advisory Team for the Paris Agreement.

She is currently based in Nairobi, Kenya, where she heads the National Environmental Law Unit of UNEP’s Law Division. Her Unit assists countries in developing their environmental laws and strengthening their institutions to achieve their environmental objectives.

Maria Socorro has a degree in Economics (1989) and a Juris Doctor (1993) degree, both from the Ateneo de Manila University. She obtained her Master of Laws from Harvard Law School in 1995. She is a member of the Philippine and New York bar.

Marlon Manuel

Marlon Manuel

Senior Advisor
Legal Empowerment Network

Marlon currently works at Namati, a Washington DC-based international NGO, as Senior Advisor to the Legal Empowerment Network, a global community of grassroots justice defenders. He is a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law and the San Beda College of Law.

Marlon has more than two decades of experience in legal empowerment work, having devoted practically his entire career to social justice and human rights lawyering. He has combined grassroots education activities with active involvement in strategic litigation on human rights and public interest issues, policy reform work on social justice legislation, and justice system reform programs on improving access to justice.

Marlon started his legal practice in 1994 when he joined the SyCip Salazar Hernandez and Gatmaitan law offices. After one and a half years at the said law firm, he decided to shift to alternative lawyering. In 1996, he joined the Sentro ng Alternatibong Lingap Panligal (SALIGAN), where he spent more than a decade of his work as a lawyer. Founded in 1987, SALIGAN is a legal resource NGO engaged in developmental legal work with farmers, workers, the urban poor, women, and local communities. From 2001 until 2007, Marlon served as SALIGAN’s Executive Director.

From 2008-2017, Marlon was the Coordinator of the Alternative Law Groups (ALG), a coalition of twenty (20) legal resource NGOs in the Philippines with distinct programs that are primarily concerned with the pursuit of public interest, respect for human rights, and promotion of social justice. ALG members’ operations cover a wide range of justice issues of poor and marginalized groups in the country. These include issues on women, workers, farmers, fisherfolk, children, urban poor, indigenous peoples, local governance, and the environment.

From 2011-2015, he was the Vice-Chairperson for the Basic Sectors of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), a government commission that was created pursuant to the Social Reform and Poverty Alleviation Act.

Musonda Mumba

Musonda Mumba

Terrestrial Ecosystems Unit, United Nations Environment Programme

Dr. Musonda Mumba, a Zambian National, is currently the head of the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Terrestrial Ecosystems Team, with over 20 years’ experience in environmental and conservation issues globally. She the Chair of the Global Partnership on Forest and Landscape Restoration (GPFLR). In her role at UNEP, she provides strategic leadership on Forests and Climate Change, Integrated Landscape Management (ILM) Approaches, Policy support to Governments globally, developing appropriate Policy dialogue and strategic direction around Terrestrial Ecosystems. She has published widely in various journals, newspapers, articles and contributed to book chapters. She will also be the UN Environment lead on Terrestrial Ecosystems for the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021 – 2030), a UN General Assembly Resolution that was passed on 1st March 2019. Before working for UNEP, Musonda worked for the Zambian Government, Ramsar Convention, WWF (at International in Switzerland, UK and East Africa Regional Offices) and also works closely with governments and partners on Africa, Asia and Latin America.

She received her BSc. Ed degree at University of Zambia and her PhD at University College London in wetland conservation and hydrology.

Nicholas Robinson

Nicholas Robinson

Professor of Environmental Law Emeritus
Elisabeth Haub School of Law, Pace University

Nicholas A. Robinson is Gilbert & Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law Emeritus in the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University, whose environmental law programs he founded in 1978. He was elected chair of the Commission on Environmental Law of the International. Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) serving from 1996-2004.

He was IUCN Legal Advisor in these years, and also IUCN’s Legal Advisor to its UN Observer Mission in New York. From 1974-92, he served under five US Presidents on the environmental law negotiations under the USA-USSR Agreement for Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection.

He participated in the 1972 (Stockholm), 1992 (Rio de Janeiro), and 2002 (Johannesburg) United Nations environmental conferences, and the UN General Assembly debates leading to the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals. His book, Kakar, Robinson and Vesselin, Fulfilling the Sustainable Development Goals, Routledge}, appears in 2021.

He founded the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law, whose members number currently 2010 law schools from every region of the world. He has lectured widely for webinar conferences since the COVID-19 pandemic on zoonosis and how environmental law can be deployed to avert future such pandemics.

He is currently the Executive Governor of the International Council of Environmental law (ICEL), the world’s first association of jurists dedicated to the progressive development of environmental law, founded in New Delhi in 1969, with its secretariat today in Madrid at Universidad Carlos III de Madrid.

Syed Mansoor Ali Shah

Syed Mansoor Ali Shah

Supreme Court of Pakistan

Justice Shah was elevated to the bench at the Lahore High Court in 2009 and after serving as the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court for almost two years was elevated to the Supreme Court of Pakistan in early 2018. He did his schooling at Aitchison College, Lahore and got his law degree from the University of Cambridge, UK, as well as, the University of the Punjab, where he also obtained a degree in Masters in Economics. As a corporate litigator, he was a partner at AFRIDI, SHAH & MINALLAH and took interest in public interest litigation with special focus on the environment and had a passion for teaching and taught law for almost two decades at the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), Punjab Law College and Pakistan College of Law, Lahore. He was also part of the steering committee that established the law school at LUMS, now called Syed Ahmed Hassan School of Law & Policy (SAHSOL).

His areas of interest are the constitutional law, human rights, administrative law, taxation, climate and water justice, environmental sustainability, disability rights, digital surveillance, privacy and proportionality. He is a keen proponent of sustainable development. He has a heart for judicial reforms and as the Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court he spearheaded the formation of Alternate Dispute Resolution Centers (ADRC) in every district of the Province providing an alternative to litigation and to reduce the staggering pendency of cases. He established Criminal and Civil Model Courts to create working coordination between stakeholders in order to speed up dispensation of justice, introduced Case Management and Court Automation Systems in Punjab both at the Lahore High Court and the District Courts, installed first ever Enterprise IT System with the help of Punjab Information Technology Board to sustain the IT vision of the court for the next decade and make the judicial system in Punjab, open, transparent, smart and fully connected at all levels. To provide access to justice to an ordinary litigant and the lawyers, online Call Centre, Judicial Mobile App and online Sahulat (care) Center were established.

He underlines the need for Information Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Human Resource Development and Restructuring of the District Judiciary as the effective engines of change for the future and would like them to be mainstreamed to achieve state of the art judicial governance. He lays great emphasis on empowering the District Judiciary by enhancing their capacity through international and domestic training, based on performance indicators and by providing them a secure and conducive working environment, especially for the women judges. He feels that we need to increase judge per capita to improve the quality and speed of dispensation of justice in the country.

He helped restructure the curriculum at the Punjab Judicial Academy and brought it in line with the global best practices building a sustainable platform for judicial capacity building of the members of the District judiciary and the ministerial court staff. He laid special emphasis on research and played a foundational role in setting up the Lahore High Court Research Centre (LHCRC).

At the Supreme Court of Pakistan, he has helped establish e-courts by video linking the Principal Seat of the Supreme Court with all the Provincial Registries of the Supreme Court, which has helped save travel cost to Islamabad from all over the country and has brought relief to the working schedule of the lawyers who can attend to more cases, work more efficiently by avoiding adjournments. This was done prior to Covid-19 and has attained exceptional utility during the pandemic. The new SC Judicial Mobile Application helps lawyers and litigants navigate their way through the cause lists and court rosters and have enhanced their access to justice. Research and scholarship are the hallmarks of any apex court in the country, hence Research Centre (SCRC) at the SC building was established, manned by bright and promising Civil Judges from all across Pakistan. SCRC carries the vision to eventually provide and support research to all the courts in the country, thereby enriching our jurisprudence and scholarship of our judges.

Justice Shah is an accredited mediator from CEDR, London; an Honorary Bencher of Lincoln’s Inn, UK; a judicial member of the Global Judicial Institute on Environment (GJIE) (Brazil); a member of the Global Constitutionalism (Yale University, 2020- ) and a Member of the Rhodes Scholarship Committee for Pakistan (2019- ). He is an avid golfer, loves sports and enjoys reading and music.

Vidya Viswanathan

Vidya Viswanathan

Program Director
at Center for Policy Research (CPR)

Vidya Viswanathan is an environmental and social justice researcher and currently leads a team at CPR-Namati Environmental Justice Program at Center for Policy Research (CPR) as its Program Director. CPR is one of the leading policy think tanks, and the program has created a network of grassroots legal professionals working in the field of environment law implementation and citizens empowerment.

She is the co-author of a number of articles and paper understanding the efficacy of environmental regulations in protecting ecology and managing social conflicts induced by land use changes on the ground. Her research interest areas include methods of strengthening environmental governance, including regulations, with a focus on building better and collaborative interfaces between citizens and regulators to promote India's ecological security.

Prior to joining CPR, Vidya has worked with both environmental organizations and the Government through her stints at the WWF and the Ministries of Labour & Employment and Rural Development.

She has a Masters in Social Work with a specialization in Community Organization and Development Practice from the prestigious Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, and a Bachelors in Economics from the University of Delhi.

Christina Voigt

Christina Voigt

University of Oslo

Professor Voigt is an expert in international environmental law. She works in particular on legal issues of climate change, biodiversity conservation, environmental multilateralism and sustainability.

She is the author of numerous academic articles and several edited volumes; most recently “International Judicial Practice on the Environment – Questions of Legitimacy” (Cambridge University Press, 2019) and “Courts and the Environment” (with Z. Makuch, Edward Elgar Publishing, 2018). Others include “Research Handbook on REDD+ and International Law” (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2016) and “Rule of Law for Nature” (Cambridge University Press, 2013). In 2009, she was awarded the first Junior Scholarship Prize of the Academy of Environmental Law.

Since 2009, she has also been working for the Norwegian government as lead negotiator on REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) and as principal legal advisor in the UN climate negotiations; negotiating, inter alia, the Paris Agreement (2015) and the Katowice Rulebook for the Paris Agreement (2018). At COP24 in Katowice, she was co-facilitator for the negotiations on the rules for the Paris Agreement´s implementation and compliance committee. In June 2020, she was elected as inaugural co-chair of the committee.

She is currently on the Steering Committee of "The Legitimate Roles of the Judiciary in the Global Order" (Pluricourts) research project, awarded Centre of Excellence status, where she is project coordinator for non-compliance mechanisms.

Professor Voigt is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), member of the IUCN Task Force on Climate Change and the chair of the IUCN WCEL´s Specialist Group on Climate Change. She is the official candidate for chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, for election in January 2021.

She is also a consultant for the UN Development Program and the UN Environment Program and co-drafted in this capacity the UN Secretary General´s Report "Gaps in international environmental law and environment-related instruments" (2018).

Professor Voigt is Vice-President of the Norwegian branch of the International Law Association, and a member of the German Society for International Law. She is a member of the editorial board of Review of European, Comparative and International Environmental Law, the Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, Climate Law and Resource Management Theory & Practice as well as a member of the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment, and senior legal counsel at the Center for Sustainable Development Law (CISDL).

She has two young sons and enjoys outdoor activities, such as sailing, hiking and skiing.


Organizers and Hosts

In Alphabetical Order

Irum Ahsan

Irum Ahsan

Project Leader and Advisor
Office of the Compliance Review Panel, Asian Development Bank

Irum Ahsan completed her legal education from the London School of Economics and Political Science, UK. Prior to joining the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Irum practiced on contentious and non-contentious legal matters in Pakistan. In addition, she taught law at various prestigious institutions. At ADB, Irum provided legal advice on multisectoral development projects in Asia and Pacific and negotiated hundreds of International Finance Agreements with various governments.

Currently, Irum is the Advisor of the Office of the Compliance Review Panel at ADB. She previously led ADB’s Law and Policy Reform Program (ADB’s LPR work is based on the premise that a functioning legal system – anchored by the Rule of Law is an essential component of sustainable development) with her projects focused on environmental and climate change adjudication and enforcement, sustainable development issues, gender equality laws and access to justice for women, corporate governance, energy laws, and regional cooperation.

Irum’s work includes establishment of the Asian Judges Network on Environment, 6+ green courts in Asia and 100+ Gender Based Violence Case Court in Pakistan, first such courts in Asia. Irum has been a judicial educator and together with her team, trained around 1000+ judges on environment and climate change laws and more than 500 judges and prosecutors in Afghanistan and Pakistan on violence against women related laws.

Irum has also published her work in various journals and presented at several platforms. She is a member of ADB’s Governance, Gender, Environment, and climate change Thematic Groups. Irum is an active advocate for climate rights and gender consciousness and passionately steers the gender and climate discussions in ADB and at various international forums.

Her work lead to winning the Lexis Nexis 2020 Global Inspiration Award for contributions to SDGs; 2018 Financial Times Most Innovative In-House Legal Team Award and Innovation in Rule of Law and Access to Justice Award; ADB’s 2019 Governance Award for Outstanding Knowledge Sharing and Collaborative Initiatives; and 2017 ADB’s Vice President Award for Exceptional Contributions to the Law and Policy Reform Work.

Ben Boer

Ben Boer

Distinguished Professor of Law, Research Institute of Environmental Law Wuhan University, China
Emeritus Professor, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney

Distinguished Professor of Law, 1000 Talents Programme Expert, Research Institute of Environmental Law Wuhan University, China, 2011- 2020. Professor in Environmental Law, 1992 to 2008; appointed Emeritus Professor, Sydney Law School, University of Sydney, Australia, 2009. Deputy Chair of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law for 2012-2016. Member of the Board of Governors of the International Council on Environmental Law. Fellow of the Australian Academy of Law.

Ben has published on a wide range of environmental and heritage law topics in books, articles and reports. He is the founding co-editor of the Chinese Journal of Environmental Law.

Gregorio Rafael Bueta

Gregorio Rafael Bueta

Legal and Policy Specialist (Consultant)
Asian Development Bank

Grip is currently an expert Legal and Policy Consultant with the ADB’s Law and Policy Reform Program. He has worked with the public and private sector, and with various international development organizations. He has extensively worked with judiciaries and legal professionals across Asia on environment and climate change law, with particular in-country experience in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, Fiji, India, Myanmar, Malaysia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka. Grip has also been involved in legal and regulatory reforms in South Asia in areas such as energy trade and corporate governance.

Grip advises on legal and regulatory matters to companies in construction, management services, and NGOs. He has guided clients on corporate registration, ESG and sustainability strategies, intellectual property concerns, compliance matters, litigation, special projects and commercial arbitration, among others. Complimentary to his focus on environment, climate, and sustainability law, Grip has also worked and/or published on topics and issues such as natural resource utilization, waste management (EPR and zero waste) local government solutions (PPPs and financing options, governance), energy policy reform (transitions), climate change and businesses, judicial reforms, e-commerce, rule of law and access to justice, promotion of human rights, and children’s rights, among many others.

He is a member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature – World Commission on Environmental Law. He also lectures on Natural Resources and Environmental Law, and International Environment and Climate Change Law, at the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law.

Grip has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from the Ateneo de Manila University, and earned his Juris Doctor Degree from the same institution, where he was the recipient of the St. Thomas More Most Distinguished Award for his graduating class.

Gladys Cabanilla-Sangalang

Gladys Cabanilla-Sangalang

Senior Legal Operations Assistant
Asian Development Bank

Gladys has over 20 years of operations and administrative support experience. Before joining ADB, she worked as a paralegal in a full-service law firm that advise clients in the Banking & Finance, Corporate & Commercial, Dispute Resolution, Employment, Immigration, Intellectual Property, and Tax practice areas. Subsequently she became the Executive Administrator to the Global Chief Operating Officer of a multinational law firm and later as a Global Talent Management Specialist, overseeing the performance management tool of the Firm and managing the election of local partnership to international partnership.

She also worked as an Office Administrator and Purchasing Associate in a subsidiary of the largest media conglomerate in the Philippines that brought the first indoor family educational entertainment center to the Bonifacio Global City, Taguig.

She is currently a senior legal operations assistant in the Office of the General Counsel in ADB, supporting the Law and Policy Reform Program and several loans, grants and technical assistance sovereign projects.

She graduated from the University of the Philippines with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science (with minor in Economics and Psychology) and earned her Certificate as a Paralegal from the University of the Philippines Law Center. She also holds a diploma on Events Specialist that she earned from the School of Professional and Continuing Education of the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde.

Briony Eales

Briony Eales

Climate Change Law and Policy Specialist (Consultant)
Asian Development Bank

Briony Eales is a climate change and environmental lawyer working in the Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) Law and Policy Reform program. She has spent the last few years leading detailed research into climate change law, policy, and litigation in Asia and the Pacific. ADB will publish the results as a 4-part report series, Climate Change, Coming Soon to a Court Near You. The reports discuss climate science, Asian and Pacific climate litigation, and regional and international climate law and policy. In her work with ADB, Ms Eales also supports a Southeast Asia government with its climate law and climate change strategy update.

Ms. Eales previously worked as in-house counsel for Xstrata plc on a mining development project in Asia. She advised on environmental and social compliance, project risk, sustainable development, resettlement, and indigenous people’s engagement. Before moving to Asia, Ms Eales worked in Australian law firms as a solicitor specializing in administrative and insurance law.

Georgina Lloyd Rivera

Georgina Lloyd Rivera

Regional Coordinator
Environmental Law and Governance, United Nations Environment Programme

Dr. Georgina Lloyd Rivera is the Regional Coordinator (Asia and the Pacific) of Environmental Law and Governance for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Georgina’s works covers the areas of environmental rights, environmental crime, technical assistance in environmental law and capacity building at the national and regional level. She joined the UNEP Regional Office after spending 12 years based in Siem Reap, Cambodia. During her time in Southeast Asia she has conducted research on environmental law and policy, heritage law, heritage and tourism management, and the development of good environmental governance. Georgina has been involved in capacity building for environmental law within Southeast Asia and has provided advice to government and non-government stakeholders on environmental law and policy issues.

Georgina has conducted both doctoral and postdoctoral research on heritage law and policy at Angkor World Heritage Site. During this time she has been the recipient of an Endeavour doctoral research fellowship and UNESCO research fellowship. Her doctoral research examined legal and policy approaches for the safeguarding of intangible cultural heritage across Asia and particularly in Cambodia. During her postdoctoral fellowship she collaborated with the management authority for the Angkor World Heritage Site, the APSARA Authority, to develop safeguarding policies.

In recent years Georgina has been the Director of the SFS Center for Conservation and Development Studies in Cambodia where her work focused on community based natural resource management, protected areas management, climate change, traditional practice and environmental governance. Georgina holds a PhD in Law, Master in Environmental Law and Bachelor in Environmental Science (Hons 1) from the University of Sydney.

Christina Pak

Christina Pak

Principal Counsel and Team Leader
Law and Policy Reform, Asian Development Bank

Christina Pak is a Principal Counsel of the Asian Development Bank specializing in international finance and has worked on complex multi-sector projects across the Central West, Southeast and East Asia regions. Currently, Christina is responsible for managing the Office of General Counsel’s Law and Policy Reform Program with a diverse portfolio including environment and climate change, gender equality, private sector development, public-private partnerships and digital economy. She also serves as ADB’s Accountability Mechanism Policy Counsel and is a member of the Governance, Environment, and Climate Change Thematic Groups. Prior to joining ADB, Christina worked as a legal counsel and vice president for markets and international banking at a major UK bank in Singapore and a finance associate at a large law firm in New York City. She is a US-qualified lawyer, admitted in the States of New York and New Jersey and is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, International Union for Conservation of Nature World Commission on Environmental Law and International Bar Association.

Andrew Raine

Andrew Raine

International Environmental Law Unit, Law Division United Nations Environment Programme

Andy Raine is a Senior Legal Officer and Head of the International Environmental Law Unit at the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). He is an environmental law and governance specialist with 20 years of experience working in developed and developing countries with the United Nations and in private legal practice. Andy has been with the United Nations for 11 years, working with the United Nations Development Programme in New York, UNEP in Bangkok, and now UNEP at its global headquarters in Nairobi. Before that he worked for seven years with leading law firms in London (Linklaters LLP) and Melbourne (Freehills) on environment and climate change matters. He holds a Master’s degree in International Law (Environmental Law and Policy) with distinction from University College London, as well as Bachelor degrees in Law (Hons) and Business (Management) from the University of Queensland. He was admitted to practice in 2003 as a barrister, solicitor and officer of the Supreme Court of Victoria in Australia. Andy is passionate about the link between human rights and the environment, environmental rule of law, and in supporting countries to recalibrate their relationship with nature for a more sustainable future.

Maria Cecilia Sicangco

Maria Cecilia Sicangco

Knowledge Management Specialist (Consultant)
Asian Development Bank

Maria Cecilia T. Sicangco is a Knowledge Management Specialist (Consultant) under the Law and Policy Reform Program of the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Her work includes environmental and climate change law and policy, gender-based violence and access to justice in Islamic countries, and energy and water sector regulation in Southeast Asia and small-island developing states in the Pacific.

Prior to joining ADB, Cecille was a Fellow at the International Development Law Organization (IDLO), an international organization headquartered in Rome, Italy. She edited the publication Consumer Protection and Microfinance—Country Reports, a book that discusses the current state of the microfinance industry in India, Colombia, Kenya, and Cameroon, and sets forth legislative and policy recommendations to better protect microfinance consumers. She also collaborated on an academic research project regarding the international normative and administrative drivers of domestic rule of law.

Cecille holds a Bachelor of Applied Economics and Accountancy double degree (cum laude) from De La Salle University and a Bachelor of Laws degree (cum laude, salutatorian) from the University of the Philippines. Thereafter, she pursued a Master of Laws in International Legal Studies degree from New York University where she was the Starr Foundation Global Scholar, Hauser Scholar, and Thomas M. Franck Scholar in International Law. She is qualified as an Attorney and Counsellor at Law in the State of New York (United States of America) and the Republic of the Philippines.

Preliminary Materials

Conference Booklet

4.7 MB


December 11, 2020


This Conference Statement sets out the main concerns of the conference.

The statement follows the form of previous statements and declarations issued by the Judges Round tables issued under the auspices of the Asian Judicial Network on the Environment (AJNE).

The statement does not contain binding commitments, but recognizes and serves as a reminder of the complexities of adjudicating in the environmental law field in general, but especially with regard to climate law, and in particular when faced with a world health crisis that affects the way in which courts operate.

The statement includes reference to multilateral environmental agreements, declarations and policy documents relevant to the topics addressed in the conference subject matter. The declarations and statements issued by previous judicial gatherings in the Asia-Pacific region are also recorded.

The operative parts of the statement recognize the procedural and substantive challenges that many judges and judicial officers are grappling with in administering their courts and conducting cases during pandemics and other major health events.


Mindful that the Asian and Pacific regions, in common with all other of the world’s regions, are experiencing the adverse effects of climate change;

Mindful also that the Asian and Pacific regions, in common with all other of the world’s regions, are suffering from the convergent health, environmental and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic;

Aware of the growing number of environmental and climate change cases and reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change on the dangers of anthropogenically caused global warming;

Concerned by the increasing adverse impacts of humans on the natural environment, and the need to address those impacts though the work of judges and other judicial officers;

Emphasizing that the Asian and Pacific regions are home to countries most vulnerable to the devastating and existential effects of climate change;

Cognizant of State Party obligations under the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, and the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change, including making best efforts to limit global warming to 1.5ºC and to well below 2ºC, reaching net zero by mid-century, strengthening adaptive capacity and resilience, enhancing the successive climate pledges and communicating their efforts;

Cognizant also of the other multilateral environmental agreements especially concerning the conservation of biological diversity and trade in endangered species;

Affirming the principles of the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the 2015 Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction;

Recognizing the common environmental governance and rule of law commitments of the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals;

Taking into account the 2016 IUCN World Declaration on the Environmental Rule of Law:

Taking into account also the 2018 Brasília Declaration of Judges on Water Justice

Further taking into account also the United Nations Environment Programme Environmental Rule of Law: First Global Report of 2019;

Being aware of the intention to issue a new political Declaration on the Environment through the United Nations 50th anniversary conference on the environment in 2022;

Recalling the 2011 Jakarta Common Vision on Environment for ASEAN Judiciaries and the 2014 Hanoi Action Plan to implement the Jakarta Common Vision;

Understanding the environmental rights set out within Article 28 (f) of the 2012 ASEAN Human Rights Declaration;

Further recalling the Bhurban Declaration of the South Asia Conference on Environmental Justice, Bhurban, 2012;

Recalling also the Angkor Statement of Commitment to ASEAN Judicial Cooperation on the Environment of 2015 at the Fifth Chief Justices Roundtable on Environmental Justice;

Noting the Statement of 2016 at the Sixth ASEAN Chief Justices Roundtable on Environment, Puerto Princesa City, The Philippines;

Noting also the Beijing Declaration issued at the National Judges Training on Environmental Adjudication, in Beijing, China, July 2018;

Acknowledging the ASEAN Joint Statement on Climate Change to the 23rd Session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2017;

Further acknowledging the Forum Communiqué and the Kainaki II Declaration for Urgent Climate Change Action Now issued by Pacific leaders in Funafuti, Tuvalu, August 2019;

Recalling in addition the issues discussed in the Asia Pacific Judicial Colloquium on Climate Change: Using Constitutions to Advance Environmental Rights and Achieve Climate Justice, February 2018, Lahore, Pakistan; the Asia Pacific Judicial Conference on Environmental and Climate Change Adjudication, October 2018, Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar; and the Asia Pacific Judicial Conference on Climate Change Adjudication: Trends and Impacts, October 2019, Nadi, Fiji;

Further aware of the 2019 Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services and the evidence of steep declines in global and regional biodiversity;

Noting the 2020 Report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment to the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly, the need for urgent action to conserve, protect and restore the biosphere on which all species depend, including Homo Sapiens, and illustrating the devastating effects of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the global nature emergency on the enjoyment of human rights, and the crucial role of human rights in catalyzing action to safeguard nature;

Further noting the Climate Principles for Enterprises, as revised in 2020, with regard to the obligations of private enterprise to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions;

Recognizing the need for new and innovative approaches in judicial decision-making and the need for knowledge sharing between judges to address the issues of climate change and global health crises, especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic;

Appreciative of the establishment of the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment in 2016 and its mission to support the role of judges, courts, and tribunals to respond to pressing environmental crises;

Further recognizing that environmental laws require further development and enhanced implementation and enforcement at the national level as well as in the Asian and Pacific sub-regions;

Aware that the principle of pacta sunt servanda requires States to perform treaty obligations in good faith;

Further aware that the treaties and conventions, to which our States are parties, are binding on all branches of government, including the judiciary;

Recalling the Bangalore Principles on the domestic application of international human rights law, noting that national courts may have regard to international obligations which a State undertakes to remove ambiguity or uncertainty from national constitutions, legislation, or common law, or where the domestic law has a gap or is incomplete;


There is an urgent need to reinforce international and national laws for the protection of the environment for present and future generations.

All people should be able to live in a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

All people should be protected from the impacts of zoonotic diseases.

All people should have the right to the enjoyment of the highest practicable standard of physical and mental health and access to appropriate and affordable health-care services within their own countries.

All people should have the right to be protected through government action from the adverse effects of anthropogenic climate change.

All people, with particular regard to vulnerable groups, should have access to information, be able to engage in public participation processes and have access to justice in environmental, climate and health matters.

In view of the severe impact of extreme climatic events in the form of flash floods, droughts, forest fires, national governments and judiciaries should evolve a bottom-up approach of legal, institutional and strategic measures for the protection of life and livelihoods, especially in low-lying coastal areas, islands, mountains and other disaster-prone areas.


Judges and other judicial officers and government agencies in the Asian and Pacific regions should strengthen procedures to ensure the safe conduct of court hearings, including by provision of electronic access to the public, during the current pandemic or other major health events, in particular with respect to exposure of judges, court personnel lawyers, litigants, witnesses and observers, while also ensuring appropriate access to justice for individuals and communities.

Judges and other judicial officers and government agencies in the Asian and Pacific regions should take into account the declarations, reports, principles and procedures set out in this statement in their legal decisions and court administrative procedures to the extent possible and appropriate, in accordance with the laws of their jurisdictions.