Story | 02 May, 2018

Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice WWF8

The Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice at the 8th WWF brought together over 140 participants from over 60 countries to engage in high-level discussions on the management, use, and protection of freshwater resources. The historical event culminated with the Brasilia Declaration of Judges on Water Justice providing a set of ten principles for guiding the legal community for the protection of water and water ecosystems.

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Photo: IUCN

The World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) and partners, as coordinators of the Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice, led a number of activities focussed on the environmental rule of law for freshwater conservation during the Political Process of the 8th World Water Forum running from 18-23 March 2018 in Brasilia (Brazil). This was the first time that the Forum included a specific high-level segment on the role of judges and prosecutors, and resulted in the Brasilia Declaration of Judges on Water Justice.

Convening from 19-21 March, the Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice made history with over fifty jurists from around the world contributing their legal and technical expertise to address current challenges and provide innovative legal solutions to problems involving water and water use. WCEL and its partners, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, the Ministry of Environment of Brazil, the World Water CouncilUN Environment, the Organization of American States, and the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment, are very proud of this innovative collaboration resulting in new shared experiences highlighting best-practices for enforcing laws and ensuring effective access to “water justice".

In addition to senior justices, environmental prosecutors, law professors, and scientists from around the world, speakers during the three days included:

  • Raquel Dodge (Attorney General of Brazil)
  • Zhang Xinsheng (IUCN President)
  • Justice Cármen Lúcia Antunes Rocha (Chief Justice of the Supreme Federal Court of Brazil - STF)
  • Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti (Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Argentina)
  • Erik Solheim (Executive Director of UN Environment)
  • Minister José Sarney Filho (Minister of the Environment of Brazil)
  • Justice Laurita Vaz (Chief Justice of the National High Court of Brazil - STJ) and
  • Ambassador José Antônio Marcondes de Carvalho (Chief Environmental Negotiator of Brazil).

Overall objectives of the Conference were to:

  • Work toward implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 6 to “ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all” and Sustainable Development Goal 16 calling on States to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”
  • Contribute expertise to strengthen the equitable protection, management, and restoration of water resources in fullment of Global Result 3 (for healthy ecosystems including watersheds) of the IUCN Programme
  • Activate the implementation of the Roadmap produced by the 7th World Water Forum on securing stronger political and legal commitment to ecologically sustainable water management
  • Facilitate a robust dialogue among judges, prosecutors, and other stakeholders involved in the discussion and development of innovative legal mechanisms for ecologically sustainable and socially just management of water resources
  • Present the most recent advances in jurisprudence, legislation, public policy, and academia on water law issues
  • Convene parallel sessions for Judges and Prosecutors (by invitation only)
  • Hold the 1st WCEL International Water Justice Moot Court
  • Host a Multi-stakeholder Dialogue on the Global Pact for the Environment
  • Approve the “Brasilia Declaration of Judges on Water Justice”

Opportunities for engagement and learning spanned a diversity of topics including:

  • Water and Sustainable Development: Challenges to Law, Policy and Peace
  • Water Justice and the Environmental Rule of Law
  • Water Justice and Climate Change
  • Water Justice and Ecosystems: Scientific, Ethical, Legl and Policy Perspectives
  • Water Justice and Forests: Scientific, Ethical, Legal and Policy Perspectives
  • Water Justice, Enforcement and the Role of Environmental Courts and Public Prosecutors
  • Water Justice: Present and Future Challenges
  • Designing Better Environmental and Water Laws

For additional information see the Downloads and Links sections of this webpage.


The World Water Forum takes place every three years as the largest global dialogue on the sustainability of water. This is the first time that it will be held in the Southern Hemisphere after preceding gatherings in Marrakesh, The Hague, Kyoto, Mexico City, Istanbul, Marseille, and Gyeongju and Daegu. This was the first time that the Forum included a specific high-level segment on the role of judges and prosecutors and WCEL looks forward to continuing dialogue at the 9th World Water Forum in Dakar (Senegal) in 2021.