In recent decades, judiciaries throughout the world have begun organizing around the question of how to fulfill the responsibilities that constitutions and laws have afforded them in the field of environmental protection. The 2002 Johannesburg Principles on the Rule of Law and Sustainable Development affirmed commitment of members of the judiciary from across the globe to be active as crucial partners in strengthening environmental law and striving toward sustainable development. In 2012, the Rio+20 Declaration on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability reinforced the leadership of judiciary as guarantor of the rule of law in the field of the environment and outlined the need for an "Institutional Framework for the Advancement of Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability in the 21st Century".
In responding to environmental crises on Earth, such as biodiversity loss, climate change, and water insecurity, judges play an increasingly critical role in the implementation, compliance, and enforcement of effective laws. In this context, various national and international organizations have developed initiatives to prepare, train, and enhance the capacity of judges — including those serving on the rapidly increasing number of specialized environmental chambers, courts, and tribunals — to exercise their role in environmental matters. The Global Judicial Institute on the Environment (GJIE) builds on and unifies these efforts to create a forum for convening judges on environmental issues, providing opportunities for exchanging information, creating partnerships for collaboration, strengthening capacity, and providing research and analysis on topics important for environmental adjudication, court practices, and the environmental rule of law.