High-Level Preparatory Meetings for the 8th World Water Forum

On 8 December 2017, the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) convened two high-level events in Rio de Janeiro in preparation for the “Judges and Prosecutors Subprocess” of the 8th World Water Forum. This is the first time that the Forum will be held in the Southern Hemisphere, and is also the first time that it will include a specific high-level segment on the role of judges and prosecutors. More than 10,000 participants from around the world are anticipated to attend the week-long event.

Paricipants in Rio de Janeiro

WCEL and its partners, as coordinators of the “Judges & Prosecutors Subprocess” during the Political Segment of the 8th World Water Forum, organized two preparatory sessions on 8 December 2017 in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil). The invitation-only morning session was held at the spectacular new Museo do Amanhã (Museum of the Future) on the waterfront of Rio and the afternoon public session was held at the grand ceremonial courtroom of the Supreme Court of the State of Rio de Janeiro. In fulfillment of the IUCN Programme to Global Result 3 (for healthy ecosystems including watersheds) and SDG 6 (Water) and SDG 16 (Governance), over fifty distinguished participants from nineteen countries contributed their legal and technical expertise to a discussion of achieving the equitable protection, management, and restoration of water resources.

Through the WCEL’s direct partnership with the World Water Forum Political Process, substantial in-kind support was provided for the travel, accommodation, and participation of twelve eminent judges and leaders in the field of water law and conservation from developing countries (including Barbados, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, and Palestine). Two IUCN Councilors – CEM Chair Angela Andrade and Councilor Ayman Rabi – actively contributed to the full day colloquium as well as subsequent WCEL meetings.

Morning Session “International Colloquium on Sharing Water”

The morning session convened in the beautiful “Observatório” Room at the Museo do Amanhã with a robust discussion by panels of judges, prosecutors, diplomats, scientists, professors, and other leaders in the field on current challenges and innovative legal solutions for ecologically sustainable and socially just management of water resources. Welcoming remarks were given by Ricardo Piquet (President of the Museum of Tomorrow), Ricardo Madeiros de Andrade (Executive Director of the 8th World Water Forum and Director of the Brazilian National Water Agency – ANA), Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin (WCEL Chair and Coordinator of the “Judges and Prosecutors Subprocess” for 8th World Water Forum), and Ambassador José Antônio Marcondes de Carvalho (Chief Environmental Negotiator of Brazil and Under-Secretary General of Environment, Energy, Science, and Technology of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs). The first panel, chaired by of Judge Cristina Crespo (Honorary President, International Association of Judges), featured three speakers who provided a dynamic overview of water science, law, and policy. Speakers included Stefano Burchi (Executive Chairman, International Association for Water Law – AIDA, Rome), Paulo Salles (President, Water and Energy Agency of the Federal District of Brasilia, and Co-Chair of the International Committee of the 8th World Water Forum), and Maria Luiza Granziera (Professor at the Catholic University of Santos).

Discussions then continued during the morning session to gather technical input on the draft “Brasilia Declaration of Judges on Water” to be a primary deliverable of the “Judges and Prosecutors Subprocess.” This Declaration will be the first time that judges from around the world make a public commitment to “water justice” principles and the need for judiciaries to strengthen capacity to address urgent water challenges though courts and tribunals. Speakers introducing the draft Declaration were Minister Reinaldo Salgado (Coordinator of the Political Process of the 8th World Water Forum and a diplomat as Director of the Department for Environmental Sustainability at the Brazilian Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Owen McIntyre (Chair of the WCEL Water and Wetlands Specialist Group).

A first session of roundtables on the Declaration, chaired by Justice Elton Leme (Supreme Court of the State of Rio de Janeiro), allowed for participants to contribute their expertise and suggestions for the objectives and content of the declaration as it is formulated by the Scientific Drafting Committee lead by Owen McIntyre, and consisting of Denise Antolini, Stefano Burchi, Michael Hantke Domas, and Arnold Kreilhuber (noted below). First roundtable participants included:

  • Angela Andrade (Chair of the IUCN Commission on Ecosystem Management);
  • Denise Antolini (Deputy Chair, WCEL);
  • Justice Rafael Asenjo (Justice of the Environmental Court of Santiago, Chile);
  • Nicholas Bryner (WCEL Steering Committee Member);
  • Kathryn Gwiazdon (Representative of the WCEL Ethics Specialist Group);
  • Ian Hannam (Chair of the WCEL Soil, Desertification and Sustainable Agriculture Specialist Group);
  • Alejandro Iza (Director of the IUCN Environmental Law Centre); and
  • Claudia de Windt (Member of the IUCN WCEL Steering Committee).

The second roundtable session on the draft Brasilia Declaration was chaired by Luiz Alberto Oliveira (Curator General of the Museum of Tomorrow). Participants included:

  • Roberto Carlos Batista (Public Prosecutor of the Federal District and International Director of the Brazilian Association of Environmental Prosecutors – ABRAMPA);
  • Justice Michael Hantke Domas (Third Environmental Court of Valdivia, Chile);
  • Cristina Seixas Graça (Environmental Public Prosecutor, Brazilian State of Bahia, and Coordinator, Permanent Commission on the Environment – COPEMA);
  • Estela Neves (Professor, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro);
  • Nilufer Oral (Member of the IUCN WCEL Steering Committee);
  • Ayman Rabi (Regional Councilor);
  • Jean-Philippe Rivaud (Chair of the WCEL Specialist Group on Compliance and Enforcement);
  • Kanyinke Paul Sena (Chair of the new Joint CEESP-WCEL Specialist Group for Indigenous People and Environmental Law);
  • Ambassador Spencer Thomas (Special Envoy for Multilateral Environmental Agreements of the Government of Grenada); and
  • Raul Telles do Valle (Chair of the WCEL Forests Specialist Group).

Afternoon Session “International Colloquium on Water Law”

Afternoon sessions of the Colloquium were open to the public and convened at the beautiful ceremonial courtroom of the Supreme Court of the State of Rio de Janeiro. Justice Milton Fernandes de Souza (Chief Justice of the Supreme Court) opened the meeting, and welcoming remarks were made by Judge Renata Gil de Alcantara Videira (President of the Association of Judges of Rio de Janeiro – AMAERJ), Justice Antonio Benjamin, and Ambassador José Antônio Marcondes de Carvalho.  A keynote address was delivered by Justice Roberto de Figueiredo Caldas (President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights) on Water and the Inter-American Human Rights System, and Justice Pablo Tinajero (Member of the National Court of Ecuador).

A series of distinguished speakers then followed in panels discussing The Human Right to Water and Access to Justice: Claudia de Windt (WCEL Steering Committee); Nicholas A. Robinson (WCEL Chair Emeritus); Elizabeth Kirk (Chair of the IUCN Academy of Environmental Law); Clarissa D’Isep (Professor at the Catholic University of São Paulo); Justice Damaris Vargas Vasquez (Member of the Supreme Court of Costa Rica); Justice Michelle Weekes (Member of the High Court of Barbados); and Judge Wendy Martinez Mejía (Member of the Court of Appeals of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic).

The closing keynote session was chaired by Brazil’s former Minister of Environment Izabella Teixeira and the new Attorney General of Brazil, Raquel Elias Ferreira Dodge – the first female ever appointed to the post and a Harvard graduate. Dr. Dodge spoke on the topic of Water and the Federal Office of the Attorney-General, and announced her strong support and personal commitment to lead the WCEL initiative to form the “Global Institute of Prosecutors for the Environment.” To celebrate the success of the day’s events and demonstrate WCEL’s commitment to gender balance, this final panel was comprised of all women.

The Colloquium closed with remarks of gratitude to all the WCEL partners and participants from Justice Antonio Benjamin and Minister Reinaldo Salgado.  They noted that this exciting and innovative preparatory session has put WCEL and its partners in an excellent position for successful programming at the World Water Forum to commence in less than 100 days.

Many thanks to the numerous partners who contributed their expertise, time, and vital in-kind support to the success of the Rio preparatory meetings and the forthcoming 8th World Water Forum, including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, the Ministry of Environment of Brazil, the World Water Council, the State Supreme Court of Rio de Janeiro, the Association of State Judges of Rio de Janeiro, UN Environment, the Organization of American States, the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment, and the Museum of Tomorrow.

Looking Forward to March 2018

With the successful conclusion of the High-Level Preparatory Meetings and major progress drafting the “Brasilia Declaration of Judges on Water Justice,” WCEL is now highly energized and positioned to finalize the program for the Judges & Prosecutors Subprocess of the 8th World Water Forum convening on 19-23 March 2018 in Brasilia (Brazil). In all, WCEL is organizing a series of seven days of meetings surrounding the Forum including a WCEL Steering Committee Meeting, the inaugural meeting of the 14-member Interim Governing Committee of the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment, 2-1/2 days of programmes for the Judges & Prosecutors Subprocess over fifty senior judges and prosecutors from around the world tocontribute their legal and technical expertise, an innovative Water Justice Moot Court, and a strategic meeting on the Global Pact for the Environment (Rio de Janeiro). WCEL and the Environmental Law Centre will also be joining activities across the Union at the IUCN Pavilion led by the Global Water Program. WCEL and its partners, including UN Environment, the Organization of American States, and the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment, expect the Subprocess to focus on sharing experiences and approaches for drafting and enforcing laws, and ensuring effective access to “water justice.”





Go to top