Upholding Environmental Laws in Asia and the Pacific

The judiciary plays a key role in achieving sustainable development by upholding and enforcing environmental laws. In developing Asia, ADB is helping countries promote green justice through knowledge sharing and capacity building.

  1. Some 130 constitutions in the world recognize the obligation of the state to protect the environment or the right to a clean, safe, and healthy environment.
    Source: Rio+20: Joint Report OHCHR and UNEP. Human Rights and the Environment
  1. Asia holds 20% of the world’s biodiversity, 14% of the world’s tropical forests, and 34% of global coral resources and the greatest number of fish and aquaculture in the world. However, poor management of natural resources and corruption have had a large destructive impact on the region’s ecological systems.
    Source: ADB publication Environmental Governance and the Courts in Asia: An Asian Judges Network on the Environment
  1. Southeast Asia has suffered the greatest losses in biodiversity over the last 50 years compared to any tropical region in the world, while the list of threatened bird and mammal species in South Asia has grown longer. Environmental problems include deforestation and illegal logging; illegal wildlife trade; illegal fishing; pollution; and climate change.
    Source: ADB publication Environmental Governance and the Courts in Asia: An Asian Judges Network on the Environment
  1. In 2010, in response to requests from several of its developing member countries, ADB approved a technical assistance grant to provide information on developments and good practices on environmental adjudication and governance in Asian and developed countries.
    Source: ADB publication Environmental Governance and the Courts in Asia: An Asian Judges Network on the Environment
  1. Several countries have introduced innovative approaches to environmental governance, such as the precautionary principle (Indonesia), intergenerational equity and the writ of continuing mandamus (Philippines), and the public trust doctrine (Sri Lanka).
    Source: ADB publication Environmental Governance and the Courts in Asia: An Asian Judges Network on the Environment
  1. Since 1993, Philippine courts have long been progressive leaders in the development of environmental jurisprudence. ADB has conducted research on the Philippine judiciary as a foundation to assist other countries considering further work on the environment.
    Source: ADB publication Environmental Governance and the Courts in Asia: An Asian Judges Network on the Environment
  1. Environmental courts and tribunals (ECTs) are seen as a way to concentrate expertise to ensure that judges deciding on environmental and natural resource cases fairly and transparently balance the conflicts between protecting the environment and promoting development; manage environmental and natural resource cases efficiently and effectively; and support more public information, participation, and access to justice and for achieving informed and equitable decisions.
    Source: ADB publication Asian Judges: Green Courts and Tribunals, and Environmental Justice
  1. In 2005, ADB partnered with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to launch the Asian Environmental Compliance and Enforcement Network (AECEN), which supports environmental agencies and helps create ECTs and train judges.
    Source: ADB publication Asian Judges: Green Courts and Tribunals, and Environmental Justice
  1. ECTs have been established in several countries in the region, including Bangladesh, the People's Republic of China, India, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, and Thailand.
    Source: ADB publication Asian Judges: Green Courts and Tribunals, and Environmental Justice
  1. The Supreme Court of Thailand has established environmental divisions (or green benches) at the supreme court, the appellate court, and the trial court level. ADB is publishing a study on Thailand's environmental adjudication and the establishment of its green benches.
    Source: ADB publication Environmental Governance and the Courts in Asia: An Asian Judges Network on the Environment
  1. The judiciary plays a unique and distinct leadership role in the environmental enforcement chain. In late 2010, ADB approved a technical assistance to establish the Asian Judges Network on the Environment (AJNE), which will promote knowledge sharing and capacity building.
    Source: ADB publication Environmental Governance and the Courts in Asia: An Asian Judges Network on the Environment
  1. In 2011, chief justices and senior judiciary from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed on a common vision on the role of the judiciary in tackling regional environmental challenges, such as deforestation and illegal logging, the illicit trade in wildlife, pollution, and the destruction of coral reefs.
    Source: ADB news release ASEAN Justices Reach Common Vision on Environment