Asian Judges Symposium on Environmental Decision-Making, the Rule of Law, and Environmental Justice

Objectives

The Symposium seeks to share experience that will lead to an improvement in the quality of environmental adjudication on environment and natural resource cases in Asian jurisdictions and improving access to environmental justice. To do so, it will

  • bring together judges, environmental ministry officials, and civil society participants from Asian jurisdictions, and senior members of the judiciary and key experts from developed countries and development institutions to understand the factors that have led to the evolution of environmental jurisprudence in Asian and developed country common and civil law courts, and the ways different jurisdictions seek to promote environmental justice and ensure effective environmental adjudication;
  • consider the modes of judicial education on the environment in Asian jurisdictions and the experiences of development partners in strengthening the capacity of judges in Asia to decide environmental and natural resource cases;
  • share the work conducted under an ADB regional technical assistance project on environmental justice and adjudication; and
  • consider the need for an Asia Pacific Judges Network on the Environment.

Approach

This two day workshop of about 80 participants will build on the ongoing work of ADB under a regional technical assistance which seeks to improve implementation of environmental law in selected Asian countries by developing a roadmap for institutionalizing a system to strengthen the capacity of judges to apply environmental and natural resources law and regulation.

The symposium's emphasis is improving environmental and natural resource decision making and adjudication within regional judiciaries, without assuming that any particular form or structure is the best way to achieve effective environmental decision-making and adjudication in different country contexts. It will highlight environmental specialization within general courts, as well as exploring work done by specialist environmental courts, boards, and tribunals. Importantly, without drivers for increasing the demand for effective environmental judicial decision-making from the judiciary, environmental judicial specializations could go unused. Hence, the symposium will look at demand-side drivers, which will include the role of civil society in creating this demand, and also looking at other ways to institutionalize access to environmental justice in developing Asia.

Judges and key stakeholders will be asked to share their experiences in environmental adjudication and also, the challenges and needs that arise in doing their work. Given the many relevant issues, this year, the Symposium will emphasize an understanding of the drivers that led or are leading to progressive environmental jurisprudence and environmental adjudication, rather than focusing on specific technical legal issues. It will also seek to identify the ways of improving Asian judicial decision-making and education to emphasize environmental and natural resource issues, the concrete needs of judges and other key stakeholders in building capacity to do so, and concrete actions to respond in those ways and to those needs. Judges and environmental officials will also discuss their need for further capacity building and whether an Asia Pacific Judges' Network on the Environment should be established in conjunction with development partners to serve as forum for further capacity building and information exchange.

Output

The papers submitted during the conference will be recorded in an edited volume to serve as reference on regional and international environmental adjudication, including ECTs, to inform further work on environmental adjudication in Asia and the Pacific. To achieve this purpose, the first draft of papers will be needed by 21 July 2010.

Participants

Representatives from courts and civil society in Australia, Bangladesh, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, the Peoples' Republic of China, the Philippines, the United States, and Thailand, will share cutting edge experiences on the evolution of environmental jurisprudence and adjudication in their respective jurisdictions. Their sharing will be supported by key development partners including the United Nations Environment Programme, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Access Initiative, and the Supreme Court of the Philippines.

Resource speakers

Distinguished experts from judiciary, environmental ministries, civil society, academia, and international organizations. See the detailed program with the list of speakers.