Leading high-level judges from around the world met for the 1st Meeting of the Interim Governing Committee (IGC) of the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment (GJIE) from 17-18 March in Brasília (Brazil). This meeting preceded the Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice during the 8th World Water Forum from 19-21 March that brought together justices from over 40 Supreme Courts and Environmental Courts and dozens of experts from around the world at the largest such event ever held on the role of law in freshwater conservation.
The 1st Meeting of the Interim Governing Committee (IGC) of the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment (GJIE) convened in Brasília from 17-18 March 2018 marking another milestone since this WCEL signature initiative was first proposed six years ago by Chair Antonio Herman Benjamin at the 5th IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju (South Korea) in 2012. Generously hosted by the National High Court of Brazil – STJ, the historic GJIE meeting continued the momentum for formation and governance of the institute by gathering leading judges and partners. Over the two days of meetings, the twelve-member committee, chosen from among all GJIE Founding Members, convened to make decisions on the Institute’s governance, its registration as an international association in Geneva, the establishment of a secretariat, and the membership process. Members also contributed to the inaugural lectures in the “WCEL Environmental Law Video Lectures Series,” and agreed to establish a website and legal information database to support education and communication among members. As was the case at all previous GJIE meetings, a delegation of the Supreme Peoples’ Court of China participated informally. A second group of distinguished judges, diplomats, and experts also joined IGC Members to discuss the proposed Global Pact for the Environment moving forward under the auspices of the United Nations, and to review the draft “Brasília Declaration of Judges on Water Justice” in preparation for approval at the conclusion of the Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice during the 8th World Water Forum.
The GJIE is now advancing rapidly in its development, including legal registration in Switzerland, an agreement with UN Environment to support a secretariat, the establishment of a membership enrollment process, and the planning of several major activities in the next two years. These major steps forward are critical milestones in fulfilling GJIE’s mission to support the role of judges, courts, and tribunals in applying and enforcing environmental laws and in promoting the fair distribution of environmental benefits and burdens. Composed of actively sitting judges from around the world and led by an elected council of judges to direct and oversee activities, the Institute fulfills an important place in environmental governance by providing opportunities to exchange information, create partnerships for collaboration, strengthen capacity, and provide research and analysis on topics important for environmental adjudication, court practices, and the environmental rule of law.
The Interim Governing Committee consists of the following twelve members chosen from among all Founding Members of the Institute:
- Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, National High Court of Brazil, Chair of WCEL (Brazil)
- Lord Robert Carnwath, Supreme Court United Kingdom and UN Environment International Advisory Council (UK)
- Justice Swatanter Kumar, Chairperson National Green Tribunal (India)
- Justice Luc Lavrysen, Constitutional Court of Belgium and President European Forum of Judges for the Environment (Belgium)
- Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti, President Supreme Court of Justice of Argentina (Argentina)
- Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, Supreme Court of Pakistan (Pakistan)
- Justice Ragnhild Noer, Supreme Court of Norway and Member Steering Committee of WCEL (Norway)
- Justice Brian Preston, Chief Judge of the Land and Environment Court of New South Wales (Australia)
- Justice I Gusti Agung Sumanatha, Supreme Court of Indonesia (Indonesia)
- Justice Dr. Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, President East African Court of Justice (Rwanda)
- Justice Michelle Weekes, Supreme Court of Judicature of Barbados (Barbados)
- Justice Michael Wilson, Supreme Court of Hawai’i (USA)
Day 1 – 17 March 2018
Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin (Co-Coordinator of the Interim Governing Committee, Chair of WCEL, and Chair of the Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice within the 8th World Water Forum) opened the first day of meetings on Saturday, 17 March by thanking Ambassador Jose Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho (Chief Environment Negotiator of Brazil, Deputy-Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Environment, Energy, Science and Technology) for close collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Brazil to bring more than 40 distinguished judges, 10 public prosecutors, and leading legal and scientific experts in the field together for three days of programming at the “Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice” during the 8th World Water Forum.
During his welcoming remarks, Ambassador Marcondes acknowledged the innovative nature of the Forum and the pioneering nature of convening diverse judges and prosecutors as fundamental actors promoting environmental law and the protection of water.
Professor Denise Antolini (WCEL Deputy Chair) thanked all partners, noting that GJIE is a “labor of love” that will succeed because of the eminent support of the Members of the IGC who know that such an effort to connect judges around the world on environmental challenges is needed now more than ever.
Elizabeth Mrema (Head, Law Division at UN Environment) joined the meeting by videoconferene from Nairobi (Kenya) thanking the many partners involved in establishing GJIE as an organization “by the judges and for the judges.” She drew attention to the “Letter of Intent” signed by UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim to be presented to the GJIE in support of a secretariat, and noted that this major partnership moves the institute forward from the ad hoc approach of the past year and a half to a concrete footing to promote higher awareness, a sustained curriculum, and increased capacity allowing all judges to be ready to be “environmental law judges.”
Claudia de Windt (Senior Legal Specialist and Chief, Environmental Law, Policy and Good Governance, Department of Sustainable Development, Organization of American States) commented that GJIE is a welcome innovation in the environmental law portfolio among so many strong partners. The Institute provides the opportunity for judges and many key partners to bring together their wealth of knowledge and to increase the strength of institutions at multiple levels with access to tools and training that affect democracy and the environmental rule of law.
Judge Cristina Crespo (Honorary President, International Association of Judges) pledged to the Institute the support of the Association’s large membership consisting of 87 national associations of judges or representative groups, from five continents.
Throughout the meeting, the speakers acknowledged the numerous institutional partners that provided critical support to WCEL for the creation of the GJIE, including the International Association of Judges, UN Environment, the Asian Development Bank, the Organization of American States, the EU Forum of Judges for the Environment , the Brazilian Association of Judges − AMB, the Brazilian Association of Federal Judges − AJUFE, and several other judicial, academic, and international institutions. In addition, GJIE members expressed appreciation to IUCN President Zhang Xinsheng and Director General Inger Andersen for their leadership and personal involvement in the development of the GJIE, which has been essential to its success.
Registration of the GJIE Statute of Incorporation and Composition of the IGC
Justice Benjamin reported that the documentation for registering GJIE as an international association under Swiss law has now been deposited with the Registre du Commerce in Geneva. This registration will provide the Institute a legal personality in a city and country of global importance. He expressed special thanks to Swiss lawyer Saskia Dittesheim, Sandrine Friedi (IUCN Legal Advisor), and Carla Duarte (IUCN Legal Attache) for their pro bono assistance and expert advice in finalizing and submitting the required documents. He also noted special gratitude to Sheila Abed (WCEL Chair Emerita) for her early enthusiasm for the project during her term, when Justice Benjamin, then Deputy-Chair, first spelled out the idea of the establishment of the Institute.
The GJIE Interim Governing Committee currently consists of 12 members among an authorized total of 14. Considering the importance of China, in terms of biodiversity and the highly developed environmental law expertise within the Supreme People’s Court, a representative of the court has participated informally in all meetings of the GJIE since its inception. A place on the Committee is reserved for China, and the Interim Governing Committee looks forward to receiving a formal nomination for a representative in due time. The other remaining position is intended to be filled by a judge from Western Africa who can represent its diverse biomes and serve as a focal point for Francophone countries.
Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin explained that he and Justice Ragnhild Noer, as members of both the WCEL Steering Committee and GJIE Interim Governing Committee, traveled to Nairobi in July 2017 where they met with UN Environment Executive Director Erik Solheim to discuss UNE’s support for the future GJIE interim secretariat. To begin the process, a “Letter of Intent” was drafted by Arnold Kreilhuber (Deputy-Director, Law Division, UN Environment) for presentation by the Executive Director to GJIE during the 8th World Water Forum. The letter expresses the intent to cooperate and move toward the ultimate goal of having a fully functional secretariat to facilitate objectives of GJIE including promotion of platforms for mutual exchange and knowledge-sharing among judges, anticipated cooperation to develop a solid funding base, and creation of a strategic plan.
Updates from the Regions – Part I
With so many eminent experts gathered in one room, the GJIE members shared updates from the regions, including recent developments in case law, the establishment of green courts, major events, and other notable topics. The following reports were given:
- Lord Robert Carnwath (Supreme Court of the United Kingdom) reported on the work of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (CMJA) including multiple meetings of judges from Commonwealth countries in Africa. He also provided updates on implementation of the Climate Change Act 2008 in the United Kingdom to ensure that the net UK carbon account for the year 2050 is at least 80 percent lower than the 1990 baseline, including progress under a mechanism for setting regular climate budgets and the work of an independent expert climate change commission to advise the government on those budgets.
- Justice Luc Lavrysen (Constitutional Court of Belgium) detailed activities of the European Union Forum of Judges for the Environment (EUFJE) and its most recent meeting held in September 2017 in Oxford (United Kingdom) on the subject of climate change and the judiciary. He noted seminal cases such as Urgenda Foundation v. Kingdom of the Netherlands focusing on the duty of the government to meet its climate change obligations and a similar case VZW Klimaatzaak v. Kingdom of Belgium & Others now undergoing appeal in Belgium. There are also two cases at the European Court of Justice: one concerning an opinion that Poland did not follow EU law when increasing logging in the ancient Białowieża Forest; the second being a landmark ruling, in view to the Aarhus Convention, granting legal standing and protection to NGOs in disputes where the water status might deteriorate and to challenge decisions made under Article 4 of the EU Water Framework Directive.
- Justice Ragnhild Noer (Supreme Court of Norway) highlighted Norway’s new Climate Act, effective 1 January 2018, that sets concrete targets for reducing CO2 emissions in Norway by 40 percent of 1990 levels by 2030, and reductions of 85-90 percent by 2050. The ambitious goals include mandated annual progress reporting to Parliament and review of the goals every five years. Focus will be on the agriculture and transportation sectors, especially implementation of requirements for all new private cars to be zero emission vehicles by 2025. The District Court of Oslo also recently heard a climate lawsuit that has now gone to appeal. In this case, two non-governmental organizations sued the government for allowing oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, as the view is held that such authorization is contrary to the constitutional provision regarding a right to a clean and healthy environment, as well as the Paris Climate Agreement.
- Justice Brian Preston (Land and Environment Court of New South Wales) reported on various training activities happening around the world including the recent “Asia Pacific Judicial Colloquium on Climate Change” in Lahore (Pakistan), a meeting of Australian and Asian associations of environmental courts and tribunals to be held in Brisbane from 20-22 May 2018, and upcoming meetings of justices in Asia and the Pacific regions. New books and training manuals are also being developed including a climate change litigation bench book for judges of Asia and the Pacific. The Land and Environment Court produces a publicly available Judicial Newsletter with summaries of recent environmental law cases.
- Justice I Gusti Agung Sumanatha (Supreme Court of Indonesia) detailed the enactment of a series of laws and establishment of a “green bench” following 2014 amendments to the Indonesian Constitution providing for the right to a good and healthy environment. Further cooperation with the Asian Development Bank seeks to coordinate changes in compliance and enforcement without interfering with the independence of the Supreme Court. A National Judicial Working Group is focusing on environmental issues and updating teaching materials. Economic evaluation and scientific evidence, and its role in environmental protection will be a new focus of training.
- Justice Emmanuel Ugirashebuya (East African Court of Justice) reported on the growth of the East African Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association (EAMJA) from four to six country members. Restructuring is taking place and one issue is the need for a strong component on environment-related matters given the leadership of Kenya establishing an environmental court. Case law at regional and national courts has also experienced interesting developments, including: a ruling of the Supreme Court of Uganda concerning the right to property not taking precedence over the right to protection of the environment; a ruling of the African Commission of Human and People’s Rights concluding that even communal rights to land and forests do not take precedence over environmental rights; and a case in the UK where England’s Court of Appeal upheld that the courts could proceed to assess the merits of a mass claim brought by thousands of Zambian nationals against Zambia-based Konkola Copper Mines Plc and its London-based parent, Vedanta Resources Plc for environmental pollution including negligence, nuisance, trespass, and liability under Zambian law.
- Justice Michelle Weekes (Supreme Court of Judicature Barbados) reported on a recent court case in Barbados concerning the government seeking to boost development in the capital of Bridgetown by permitting construction of a 15-story hotel on the coast; the preliminary issues were locus standi and the lack of environmental impact assessment. Although the plaintiff did not have an economic interest, the court granted standing under the Town and Country Planning Act as being in the public interest. The case may be appealed but demonstrated the delicate balancing act between the need for economic progress and environmental conservation.
Justice Benjamin facilitated a discussion of IGC membership. He indicated that a formal application for membership to GJIE is not yet possible due to the pending establishment of its secretariat that is necessary for handling the paperwork. Nonetheless, the GJIE already has a core of 39 Founding Members who participated in the initial meetings. The IGC decided that the group of invited sitting judges attending the 8th World Water Forum who wished to join the Institute at this time are asked to submit an expression of interest to the Interim Governing Committee through Professor Denise Antolini. As a result, a total of 46 judges expressed interest in membership of the GJIE during the course of 8th World Water Forum events.
Future Meetings of the Interim Governing Committee
Because the term of the Interim Governing Committee is limited to two years by the GJIE Statute, the IGC discussed a plan to designate the succeeding Governing Committee in 2020. The IGC decided that the 1st General Assembly of Members would be tentatively scheduled in the first semester of 2020 with the venue and precise dates to be decided later. In the interim, future meetings of the IGC will be conducted by videoconference.
Updates from Partners
GJIE partners then shared reports on their most recent and future activities:
- Arnold Kreilhuber (Deputy-Director, Law Division, UN Environment) shared details of four main activities of UN Environment to promote collaboration, including: partnering on establishment of GJIE; continuing the global colloquia focused on constitutional protection of environmental rights; promoting formalized cooperation across Africa; and launching the UN Environmental Rights Initiative.
- Claudia de Windt (Senior Legal Specialist and Chief, Environmental Law, Policy and Good Governance, Department of Sustainable Development, Organization of American States) emphasized the work of OAS to increase capacity of judges across the hemisphere to: reform criminal laws and focus on environmental crimes; increase outreach through the ongoing series of Congresses for the Environmental Rule of Law; build an environmental rule of law portal to share information; and utilize the appointed Goodwill Ambassadors on Environmental Justice to share experience and expertise in the region.
- Professor Michel Prieur (President, International Center for Comparative Environmental Law - CIDCE) stressed progress in Latin America including the recent regional Escazu Convention on Access to Information, Participation and Access to Justice in Latin America and the Caribbean. Furthermore, CEDCE has submitted the draft “International Covenant on the Human Right to the Environment” to the UN Human Rights Commission, an effort now further complemented by the draft Global Pact on the Environment. He further reported on an international symposium held February in Yaoundé (Cameroon) on the theme "Effectiveness and Judicial Education of Environmental Law in Francophone Africa" where recommendations were made to improve a training manual for judicial schools in French-speaking Africa and initiate a process of assessing the effectiveness of environmental law.
- Scott Fulton (President, Environmental Law Institute - ELI) highlighted ongoing work with the judiciary in Indonesia, Columbia, Ecuador, and China, including addressing watershed protection through assessment, and curriculum development and delivery. The next step is to transfer the country-based experience across boundaries and to highlight this work in ELI publications. Furthermore, he presented the special issue of the “Environmental Law Reporter” featuring a series of articles articulating “Judges’ Reflections for the 8th World Water Forum”.
Day 2 – 18 March 2018
GJIE Website and Information Portal: Partnership with UN Environment’s INFORMEA
Justice Benjamin announced an exciting new initiative, in cooperation with UN Environment, to create an information portal for GJIE. This effort will build upon the advanced information management systems of the current online collection of treaties, treaty decisions, legislation, jurisprudence, and literature within the online portals INFORMEA and ECOLEX. Eva Duer (Team Leader, MEA Knowledge Management, UN Environment) joined the meeting through videoconference from Geneva to introduce the proposal to create a new “Global Judicial Portal” as a key vehicle for fulfilling the mission of the Institute to provide opportunities to exchange information, create partnerships for collaboration, strengthen capacity, and provide research and analysis on topics. The IGC expressed its strong support for, and approved, this collaborative effort that will serve to collect and provide access to Institute members and the public on the latest developments in the field in multiple languages. The rich exchanges among those in attendance resulted in agreement that Justice Luc Lavrysen and Justice Ragnhild Noer will communicate further with Eva Duer to begin laying the groundwork for design, cooperation, and an eventual Memorandum of Understanding to develop and operate the GJIE portal.
Launch of the WCEL Environmental Law Video Library
With so many leading experts from across the field gathered in Brasília, the GJIE meeting provided a unique opportunity to record the inaugural 19 lectures in the first phase of the new “WCEL Environmental Law Video Lectures.” These lectures will launch a groundbreaking project to build a joint “Environmental Law Video Library’” with the Catholic University of Brasília. Professor Dr. Christian Philippe Klein and Mariana Leitão represented the university at the GJIE meeting and provided an overview of its work, with great emphasis placed on offering the highest quality education grounded in innovation and care for the environment. They expressed their strong continuing support for the GJIE and its video programs. Deputy Chair Denise Antolini reported that during the GJIE meetings, ten judges and nine experts from sixteen countries and six continents recorded lectures in English, French, and Spanish. She thanked the Catholic University of Brasília for their excellent staff support and professionalism in the video recordings. These initial recordings made in Brasília will be posted to the WCEL web site on a regular basis and be publicly available. The next round of video recordings will feature eight of the best scholars in the world addressing the ethical foundations and principles of environmental law.
First Discussion on a GJIE Two-Year Plan
Throughout the formative stages of the Institute, numerous activities have already been organized and supported by the GJIE in the spirit of gathering momentum for the work of the Institute. These events have included:
- 19 - 21 March 2018: Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice during the 8th World Water Forum (Brasília, Brazil)
- 26 - 27 February 2018: Asia Pacific Judicial Colloquium on Climate Change (Lahore, Pakistan)
- 5 - 9 February 2018: International Symposium "Effectiveness and Judicial Education of Environmental Law in Francophone Africa" (Yaoundé, Cameroon)
- 8 December 2017: High-Level Preparatory Meetings for the 8th World Water Forum (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)
- 30 November - 2 December 2017: International Congress of Environmental Justice (Puerto Maldonado, Peru)
- 3-4 November 2017: International Conference on Environment (New Delhi, India)
- 22-23 September 2017: EU Forum of Judges Annual Conference 2017 “Climate Change and the Judiciary” in Oxford (UK) at Merton College
- 4-6 September 2017: 2nd Inter-American Congress on the Environmental Rule of Law (Santiago, Chile)
- 22-23 May, 2017: Regional Judicial Colloquium for Latin-America and the Caribbean: “Constitutions, Environment, and Human Rights: Practice and Implementation” (Brasília, Brazil)
Additionally, a GJIE Conference to follow the annual meeting of the State Chief Justices of the United States is being planned by Justice Michael Wilson and Claudia de Windt for 23-24 August at the Headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington, D.C. (USA).
Going forward, the Institute intends to play a leading role in providing the judiciary around the world the critical tools for confronting the greatest environmental challenges facing humanity and the courts. To jumpstart activities, the IGC decided to form initial committees in areas of highest priority, both to demonstrate how the Institute is supporting its membership and to show the impact that judges have on environmental protection. Therefore, the IGC agreed to form committees on climate change, forests, and strategic training with a focus on programs in Latin America and East/Central Asia in the coming year. Justice Brian Preston was selected to coordinate a group of IGC members to design the two-year plan, and will work parallel with Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti to lead establishment of the “Strategic Training Working Group.” Justice Michael Wilson will coordinate the “Climate Change Working Group”. Justice I Gusti Agung Sumanatha, Justice Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, Justice Swatanter Kumar, and Justice Antonio Benjamin will lead formation of the “Forests Working Group."
Breaking for lunch, Members of the IGC were honored to be hosted by H.E. Raquel Dodge (Attorney General of Brazil) at a lunch celebrating the formation of the new "Global Institute of Prosecutors for the Environment."
Proposals for the official GJIE logo were presented by the artist Lineo from the National Judicial School of Brazil. IGC Members agreed on a logo pending minor adjustments to make it quickly identifiable with the subject of judges and the environment through a blue globe overlaid with a gavel and green vine representing how nature and law are intertwined.
Updates from the Regions – Part II
- Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti (President, Supreme Court of Argentina) detailed close cooperation with UN Environment and the Organization of American States, such as a number of capacity-building programs and the engagement of himself and other OAS Goodwill Ambassadors on Environmental Justice at national levels. He indicated that exciting work with the Vatican and Latin American judges is also bringing focus to the message in Pope Francis’s Laudato si’. The Environmental Justice Committee of the Ibero-American Judicial Summit has prepared a set of principles seeking to go beyond the normative level as a framework for judges across the region, to be approved by the Ibero-American Judicial Summit convening in April 2018. Regarding implementation, the conflict over the River Atuel in Argentina demonstrates how complex remedies are highly important in water cases. Furthermore, the non-regression principle requires the defense of judicial independence to provide integrated legal solutions that acknowledge the shift of paradigm from an anthropocentric to an ecosystem approach.
- Justice Michael Wilson (Supreme Court of Hawai’i) discussed challenges in the United States due to lack of national leadership on climate change. He also highlighted the recent decisions in the case Juliana v. United States presided over by Ann Aiken, federal district court judge in Oregon. The case, in which plaintiffs are seeking a declaration that the federal government violated plaintiffs’ constitutional rights by causing dangerous carbon dioxide concentrations, could proceed to trial.
- Justice Swatanter Kumar (National Green Tribunal, India (retired)) detailed India’s strong commitment to environmental protection and the important role of the judiciary to fill gaps in legislation and ensure proper implementation of the intent of environmental laws. He highlighted two cases: the order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Manoj Mishra Vs. Union of India & Others in 2017 directing that no waste of any kind be permitted to enter the Yamuna River and its flood plain; and the order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Society for Protection of Environment & Biodiversity & Others Vs. Union of India & Others, with the principle of non-regression at its core, concluding that subordinate legislation of local governments cannot contradict an act of Parliament, namely the 1986 Environmental Protection Act.
- Justice Li Mingyi and Justice Yang Di (Supreme People’s Court, China) shared progress made at the Supreme People’s Court of China on building an “ecological civilization” in the context of a specific constitutional amendment. As part of implementing the 2014 Environmental Protection Law, China now has over 1,000 tribunals and courts specialized in environment and natural resource issues. Over 55,900 criminal cases were brought before the courts, and over 51,100 have been decided. They pointed to an important White Paper providing additional information on China’s Environmental Resource Courts.
- Justice Mansoor Ali Shah (Supreme Court of Pakistan) reported by videoconference on the successful “Asia Pacific Judicial Colloquium on Climate Change: Using Constitutions to Advance Environmental Rights and Achieve Climate Justice” in Lahore (Pakistan), the outcomes of which are being publicized to provide materials to judges across Pakistan. Furthermore, a judgment at the Lahore High Court recently recognized “climate justice” and “water justice” under the legal umbrella of Articles 9 and 14 of the Constitution pertaining to the right to life and dignity.
Global Pact for the Environment
In addition to the closed meeting of the IGC over the two days, an inclusive session was held with additional invited senior judges for broader discussions on the Global Pact for the Environment. Launched in 2017, the initiative started by the Republic of France aims to serve as a legally binding “umbrella text” under the United Nations to synthesize the principles outlined in the Stockholm Declaration, the World Charter for Nature, the Rio Declaration, the IUCN World Declaration on the Environmental Rule of Law, and other instruments to solidify the environmental rule of law around the world and to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The IGC session was chaired by Ambassador Michel Miraillet (Ambassador of France to Brazil). He acknowledged the formative contributions of GJIE and WCEL representatives to the original draft launched on 24 June 2017, and expressed France’s commitment to driving international action to adopt the Pact under the auspices of the United Nations. Special Guest Ambassador Xavier Sticker (Ambassador for the Environment, France) highlighted the opportunity, urgency, and suitability to act now for the Pact to respond to and protect human environmental rights in the face of mounting challenges. Yann Aguila (President, Environment Commission of the Club des Juristes, France) detailed the evolution of the Pact as a collective story of legal developments that create ideal conditions for the Pact to unify guiding principles of environmental law for effective access to justice, and to achieve the right to an ecologically sound environment as a human right at international level.
Draft Brasília Declaration of Judges on Water Justice
As a major contribution to the 8th World Water Forum, invited judges from over ten countries joined the IGC in the afternoon session on Day 2 to engage in a robust discussion in an effort to finalize the Brasília Declaration of Judges on Water Justice. The draft Declaration was the result of a five-month process involving a series of videoconference discussions, vigorous e-mail correspondence, and in-person drafting sessions by an expert scientific drafting committee and leading representatives of the GJIE. The draft Declaration was then presented as a set of guiding principles for the utilization, management, and protection of all forms of fresh water resources.
Stefano Burchi (President, International Association for Water Law - AIDA) began introductions to the draft by emphasizing that the aim is to take an “ecosystemic” and "ecocentric" view of water that can effectively inform the administration of justice in the field of water resources. Justice Michael Hantke (GJIE Founding Member and President, Third Environmental Tribunal of Chile, Valdivia) made the point that the Declaration achieves the intention of reaching all judges and demonstrating the ecological interconnections of water and how to adjudicate environmental issues in view to achieving water justice. Justice Brian Preston detailed the careful thinking and hard work that went into the ten principles to allow for judges to utilize them. Justice Michelle Weekes expressed her satisfaction with the high level of enthusiasm and care that went into crafting language acknowledging water as a critical resource deserving the high attention of the judiciary. Pointing out that climate change and water may be the most intense issues now confronting judges in their courts, Justice Michael Wilson noted the potential of the Declaration to reinforce the importance of an independent and impartial judiciary.
The session was opened for an in-person and open exchange of suggestions to the drafting committee that informed further deliberations throughout the duration of the Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice through the final version later adopted by acclaim at the conference.
Professor Denise Antolini provided a short overview of the following two-day Program for the “Conference of Judges and Prosecutors on Water Justice” on 19-21 March and the meeting was closed to take a group photo and a tour of the National High Court of Brazil – STJ.
- Endorsement of a GJIE letter acknowledging receipt and agreement with the “Letter of Intent” from Erik Solheim, Executive Director of UN Environment, to cooperate on establishing a fully functional GJIE Secretariat, including promotion of platforms for mutual exchange and knowledge-sharing among judges, developing a solid funding base, and creating a strategic plan;
- Approval of inviting sitting judges at the Forum to express interest to become GJIE Members;
- Support to pursue a Memorandum of Understanding between GJIE and the Commonwealth Magistrates and Judges Association (CMJA), to be led by Lord Robert Carnwath;
- Consent to explore opportunities to reach a Memorandum of Understanding between GJIE and the East African Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association, to be led by Justice Emmanuel Ugirashebuja;
- Approval to formalize cooperation with the International Association of Judges through a Memorandum of Understanding, to be facilitated by Judge Cristina Crespo;
- Endorsement of a collaborative effort with UN Environment to create a new “Global Judicial Portal” to collect and provide access to Institute members and the public in multiple language on the latest developments, including appointment of Justice Luc Lavrysen and Justice Ragnhild Noer to communicate further with Eva Duer at INFORMEA to lay the groundwork for design, cooperation, and an eventual Memorandum of Understanding to develop and operate the online portal;
- Selection of Justice Brian Preston to coordinate a group of IGC members to design the two-year GJIE Strategic Plan;
- Approval of three working groups to be formed as follows:Justice Brian Preston and Justice Ricardo Lorenzetti leading establishment of the “Strategic Training Working Group”; Justice Michael Wilson appointed to Chair the “Climate Change Working Group”; and Justice I Gusti Agung Sumanatha, Justice Emmanuel Ugirashebuja, Justice Swatanter Kumar, and Justice Antonio Benjamin forming the initial “Forests Working Group”;
- Agreement on the GJIE logo pending minor adjustments; and
- Tentative scheduling of the 1st General Assembly of GJIE Members for the first semester of 2020, with the venue and precise dates to be decided later.