Formal Launch of the Asian Judges Network on Environment

President Takehiko Nakao opens the Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment at the Asian Development Bank headquarters, Dec. 3, 2013. (Photo courtesy ADB)

MANILA, Philippines, December 12, 2013 (ENS) – An Asian Judges Network on Environment has been formally launched in Manila, marking a new stage of cooperation among justices charged with enforcing environmental laws and helping to preserve Asia’s natural capital.

The three-day Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment held last week drew 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 Asian Development Bank hosted the event in partnership with the Supreme Court of Philippines, with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in attendance.

Other partners included the United Nations Environment Program, World Wildlife Fund, United States Agency for International Development, and the Freeland Foundation.

Bank President Takehiko Nakao told symposium participants, “ADB strongly supports the Network because we understand the critical role that Chief Justices and their senior judiciary play in improving environmental enforcement and strengthening the rule of law. This role includes making environmental decisions, developing environmental jurisprudence, and establishing environmental courts. It also includes championing and leading the rest of the legal profession, the law enforcement community, and broader public, toward credible rule of law systems that have integrity and promote environmental justice.”

Nakao said he is encouraged by recent developments to strengthen environmental law enforcement across Asia. “The Chief Justice of Indonesia announced his decree to certify specialist environmental judges and ensure they decide environmental cases,” he said.

“The Chief Justices of Pakistan and Malaysia have established environmental courts and judicial environmental training,” he said. “And the Chief Justices of Vietnam and Sri Lanka have committed to carry the torch forward in terms of the regional vision and national commitments into 2014,” Nakao told the symposium.

Responding to requests from across the region, the bank has established an on-line interface for all Asian Judiciaries to communicate landmark environmental judgments. The site contains the region’s environmental laws and Nakao said it will help “maintain a sense of community between face-to-face meetings.”

The bank has also supported delegations of Asian justices to join globally significant environmental events, including the Rio Conference, the Convention on Biodiversity, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species,” said Nakao.

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