MANILA, PHILIPPINES – Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao today opened the Third Asian Judges Symposium on Law, Policy and Climate Change, calling on the region’s judicial systems to play a key role in helping countries contribute to global efforts to mitigate climate change and its impacts.
“We should use the collective wisdom of national judiciaries to strengthen global climate actions,” Mr. Nakao said. “As more climate change legislation and regulations proliferate following new treaty agreements, I trust that more litigation will occur and more climate change law will develop. Regional collaboration for knowledge sharing and capacity building among the legal profession is becoming critical.”
The 2-day symposium is hosted by ADB jointly with the Supreme Court of the Philippines and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). Following Mr. Nakao’s welcome remarks, the gathering was addressed by Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the Philippines Maria Lourdes Sereno; Arnold Kreilhuber, head of UNEP’s International Environmental Law Unit; Philippines Senator Loren Legarda; and ADB’s General Counsel Christopher Stephens.
The event brings together chief justices, senior judges, legal and climate experts, civil society organizations and students to explore how climate change affects the judicial rule of law and how ADB can support judges in dispensing climate justice. Discussion topics include the significance of last year’s Paris climate agreement, the impact of climate change on vulnerable people and their right to a clean and healthy environment, and the legal entitlements of displaced communities.
Mr. Nakao noted there had been more than 700 climate change litigation cases globally. These have included claims relating to environmental impact assessments of climate change on proposed projects, challenges by private companies against laws designed to mitigate climate impacts, claims arising from emissions trading systems, and compelling government action to address climate change.
To help address Asia and the Pacific’s significant climate challenges, ADB has doubled its climate financing and is pursuing cofinancing and knowledge-sharing opportunities with partners, Mr. Nakao said. It is also working with the private sector to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency, and to help governments design policies to cut emissions.
ADB, based in Manila, is dedicated to reducing poverty in Asia and the Pacific through inclusive economic growth, environmentally sustainable growth, and regional integration. Established in 1966, ADB in December 2016 will mark 50 years of development partnership in the region. It is owned by 67 members – 48 from the region. In 2015, ADB assistance totaled $27.2 billion, including cofinancing of $10.7 billion.