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ClientEarth Communications

30th October 2023

Asia Pacific Judicial Training on Environment and Climate Law Adjudication Judges in a triple planetary crisis world

Ciawi, Bogor, Indonesia - "Asia Pacific Judicial Training on Environment and Climate Law Adjudication: Judges in a triple planetary crisis world" is a 5-day advanced environmental judicial training programme taking place from 30 October to 4 November 2023. This is a collaboration between the Indonesian Supreme Court, Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, and ClientEarth, supported by the United Nations Environment Programme. It brings together more than 70 judges from across Asia on global legal developments on environmental and climate matters. The organisations are honoured to collaborate and host this significant event, bringing together a diverse group of judges from the Asia Pacific to strengthen regional legal networks and promote a shared commitment to climate justice and the environmental rule of law.

The speakers are leading judges experienced in environmental adjudication such as Justice Antonio Benjamin of Brazil (environmental law luminary), Justice Ayesha Malik (the first female Supreme Court Judge of Pakistan), Justice Maria Filomena Singh (of the Philippines Supreme Court and Director for the Asia Pacific Region of the International Association of Women Judges), and Justice Nicola Pain, longest-serving judge of the Land and Environment Court, New South Wales  of the Appeal Court. A delegation of senior environmental judges from China will join and address the sessions. Winston Chow, Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group II, will also speak as part of a session on examining scientific evidence in climate cases. The participant judges represent countries in the ASEAN region including Indonesia, Singapore, Cambodia, Philippines, Laos, Thailand and Malaysia and the wider Asia region from China and India. Participants will benefit from the expertise of esteemed trainers and facilitators, including leading legal scholars, judges, and practitioners.

Topics covered will include biodiversity, climate litigation, climate science, and judicial tools and methodologies in environmental adjudication. There will also be prominent speakers from Indonesia - Judge Bambang Hery Mulyono, Chief of Judicial Research and Education Agency, Indonesia Supreme Court, Mas Achmad Santosa, Founder of Indonesian Center for Environmental Law, CEO of Indonesia Ocean Justice Initiative, and Prof. Andri Gunawan Wibisana, Vice Dean, University of Indonesia.

The triple planetary crisis refers to the three main interlinked issues that humanity currently faces: climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. These challenges not only test the boundaries of our legal systems but also require that judges, as stewards of justice, adapt, innovate, and lead in ways previously unimagined. In the next decade, judges will be expected to develop novel remedies in response to complex legal questions, involving dimensions of human rights, constitutional and commercial laws, and transboundary issues in the context of climate change and environmental damage. Countries will pass new legislation to address climate change, and judges must be prepared with the knowledge of climate science and legal principles when enforcing these laws.

Climate change has given rise to new legal issues, as seen in climate litigation increasingly being filed around the world by private and public actors alike. Concurrently, countries and their legal systems are grappling with the challenges of dealing with transboundary harm.  This means that the judiciary will have a key role in the international response to the climate crisis.

The Asia-Pacific region in particular faces unique challenges arising from climate change including geographic vulnerabilities to climate change as well as preparing for an energy transition while simultaneously ensuring the welfare of its communities. The region’s particular circumstances mean that capacity building efforts tailored to it specifically are vital. The training will address this need by providing resources on key legal and scientific developments across the Asia-Pacific region to assist in more effective adjudication of disputes. This will strengthen judicial capacity in key areas of environmental and climate law and developing resources on key legal and scientific developments across the Asia-Pacific region to assist in more effective adjudication of disputes. This will provide a platform for judicial members to exchange information and build a network of like-minded environmentally conscious judges in the region.

Against this background, the program has been designed to cover topics such as the recent trends and developments in international environmental law and biodiversity principles, climate change, climate justice, and human rights in Asia and the Pacific, climate litigation and environmental adjudication and the interface between corporate law and climate change.

Dimitri de Boer, Regional Director of Programmes, Asia from ClientEarth said “We recognise that the legal profession and especially judges’ adjudicating climate litigation will play an important role in addressing climate change and biodiversity losses. Our experience and expertise, across all major specialisms, means we are uniquely placed to support the profession in rising to this challenge. We hope to support international efforts to strengthen the environmental rule of law through judicial training, convenings and conferences.”

“Our previous experience delivering judicial training programmes to Chinese judges has given us a wealth of experience and knowledge on co-designing effective capacity building programmes to strengthen environmental judicial capacity. We are honoured to be working closely with the Supreme Court of Indonesia and local partners to deliver a training event that will bring together judges from across the region to learn, unlearn and share best practices.

“This training will strengthen judicial capacity by equipping judges to address this emerging area of litigation. Judges play a leadership role in the legal profession. Their legal interpretation, as set out in court judgments, influences the understanding of the law by both practitioners and students of law. Judicial capacity building therefore has the potential to influence the legal profession as a whole.”

Elizabeth Wu, Legal Consultant from ClientEarth added "It is an incredible privilege to collaborate with the Supreme Court of Indonesia , ICEL and UNEP and the other organisations on organizing this climate and environmental law training for esteemed judges from across Asia. We are also privileged to engage with our distinguished speakers to design the program and deeply grateful for their time and for sharing their experiences with the participant judges.  The enthusiastic response to this training from the participant judges and our speakers reflects our collective efforts and is a testament to our shared commitment of advancing climate justice and finding solutions to climate change. We hope this platform will be an exercise of learning from one another and fostering a dynamic exchange of ideas and expertise."

Justice Bambang H. Mulyono, The Head of The Agency for Research and Judicial Training, The Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia remarked "The Judicial Training Centre is proud to support this judicial training event, which plays a pivotal role in advancing environmental justice across Asia. A well-informed and skilled judiciary is essential for safeguarding our planet's future. Environmental law is at the forefront of addressing the critical issues of our time. We believe that by equipping judges with a deeper understanding of environmental law, we are paving the way for fair, equitable, and environmentally responsible legal decisions.”

Raynaldo Sembiring, ICEL Executive Director added “This training is pivotal to enhance judicial capacity in combating triple planetary crisis. As it is not only discussing and interpreting the climate law but also aim to form a platform where judges can share their experience and information. We believe this training will guide judges to envision a good health sustainable environment for present and future generations by overcoming national and legal system barriers.”

Georgina Lloyd, UNEP Coordinator for Environmental Law and Governance for Asia and the Pacific said “This training will strengthen judicial capacity by equipping judges to address emerging areas of environmental litigation. Judges play a critical leadership role in upholding environmental rule of law. Their legal interpretation, as set out in court judgments, influences the understanding of the law by both legal practitioners and law students. Judicial capacity building has the potential to address implementation gaps and strengthen environmental rule of law across the triple planetary crisis - the crisis of climate change, the crisis of nature loss and the crisis of pollution.”