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ClientEarth Communications

2nd January 2024

Climate Justice Capacity Initiative launched internationally at the Climate Law and Governance Day during COP28

The Climate Justice Capacity Initiative was launched internationally during the UN climate summit, COP28, in Dubai. The initiative is a collaboration of five law schools based in different regions of the Philippines, aimed at developing environmental and climate law expertise in the country and training the next generation of lawyers to use the law to address the climate and nature crises. ClientEarth helped establish and supports the initiative as part of our capacity development work. This article was written by members of the initiative's secretariat, Hazel Acero, Policy and Legal Research Associate, Manila Observatory and Raziele Rañeses, Climate Justice Capacity Initiative (CJCI) Project Manager and resident attorney of Ateneo de Naga Law School legal aid clinic.

5 December 2023 - Climate Law & Governance Day (CLGD) 2023 was held alongside the UN climate change conference, COP28 in Dubai, UAE. CLGD 2023 had the theme “Engaging in Global Stocktake through Legal Lenses.”  The event took place in hybrid format at the Middlesex University Dubai.  It was co-hosted by the University of Cambridge, Middlesex University Dubai and the University of Dubai, together with the International Law Association, the International Bar Association, the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, the International Development Law Organization, the World Commission on Environmental Law and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

CLGD 2023 had three plenaries and 16 parallel sessions, which included roundtables, expert panels, and participatory workshops. Legal and public policy experts engaged with judges, negotiators, professors, and law practitioners, including prominent general counsel from international organisations committed to implementing the Paris Agreement. CLGD had over 1,750 registrants from around the globe.

The Climate Justice Capacity Initiative (CJCI) was officially launched at the CLGD Leadership Panel on Developing Education and Capacity for Climate Law and Policy – European and Global Trends.  The session included eminent participants such as the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, Professor Ian Fry.  During the session, panellists discussed various educational models for advancing climate education, particularly at universities in Poland and the Philippines.  The panel included speakers from universities, as well as the UNFCCC COP24 (Katowice) President, Dr Michał Kurtyka, the former Polish climate minister.

Dean Antonio Gabriel La Viña, the Associate Director for Climate Policy and International Relations at the Manila Observatory and Project Head of CJCI, introduced the initiative. He emphasised CJCI's pivotal role in bringing together individuals from diverse backgrounds and expertise and the importance of the rule of law in safeguarding our environment for present and future generations.

Raziele Rañeses, CJCI Project Manager and resident attorney of one of CJCI’s five law school clinics, provided valuable insights into how the project actively supports climate action through collaborative efforts with students, lawyers, and local communities. She shared the innovative approach of linking the theory of law with legal practice, allowing law students to conduct capacity-building training on environmental law and jurisprudence for local environmental enforcers. This initiative also provided lawyers with hands-on experience in the field of environmental law and climate litigation. CJCI aims to empower community members with the knowledge and skills needed to identify and report violations of environmental laws.

Professor Dr. Ahmad Kamruzzaman Majumder, Dean of the Faculty of Science and Chairman of the Department of Environmental Science at Stamford University Bangladesh, expressed keen interest in implementing a similar program in Bangladesh. Recognising Bangladesh's vulnerability to climate change, he envisioned using the CJCI model to empower students and local communities with the knowledge needed to use the rule of law to effectively protect the environment.

The international launch of CJCI during the CLGD marked a significant milestone, culminating its pilot implementation over the past two years.  It encapsulated a journey filled with both successes and challenges since its inception in 2021, particularly amid the challenging backdrop of the global pandemic.  Despite navigating restrictive conditions, CJCI has not only persevered but has also left an indelible mark on students, lawyers, and communities alike.

By providing a legal lens to environmental protection, CJCI has not only weathered external uncertainties but has actively contributed to the broader cause of advocating for a sustainable and legally sound approach to environmental issues.