The Asia Pacific Judicial Colloquium on Climate Change was held recently in Lahore, Pakistan to discuss the use of constitutions to advance environmental rights and achieve climate justice.
The colloquium is supported through RWI’s regional work in Asia, which focuses on human rights and the environment.
The issues discussed during the meeting involved the role of the judiciary in climate justice and the intersections of environmental issues and human rights. Participants discussed a clean environment as being a basic human right that courts are responsible for ensuring. Interesting national jurisprudence examples from the region pertaining to environmental matters were also discussed. A question which needs to be further looked into in this respect is enforcement of judgments.
The colloquium brought together 40 senior judges from the Asia Pacific region along with 250 judges and legal stakeholders from Pakistan to discuss and build the capacity of the judicial system in promoting climate justice. Other participants came from countries including the United Kingdom, Thailand, New Zealand, the United States, Malaysia, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Australia, the Philippines, Sweden, and Pakistan.
The colloquium produced tangible plans of action for both the Lahore High Court and for the other participants.
“There was a tremendous enthusiasm from the local judicial practitioners in Lahore,” RWI Senior Programme Officer Yoke Sudarbo said. “Young advocates in the Lahore High Court were so enthused by the Colloquium that they created Pakistan’s first ever environmental law bar association.”
Another outcome of the colloquium included a Lahore Action Plan, which will serve as a regional roadmap for participating judiciaries and partnering organizations.
RWI affiliated professor Sumudu Atapattu, who has been involved with the Institute’s efforts on these issues, delivered a speech on the intersection of climate justice and human rights using cases from South Asia.
RWI assisted in providing the UN Special Rapporteur John Knox UNHR Framework Principles on Human Rights and the Environment, which deals with the implementation of international human rights law on environmental issues. Knox gave a speech at the colloquium titled “The Interdependence of Human Rights and the Environment.”
The Lahore High Court, in partnership with the UN Environment, the Asian Development Bank, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Professor John H. Knox hosted the two-day event. The colloquium was also hosted in partnership with Widener University Delaware Law School and North-West University.
The publications and training materials from the colloquium will be distributed to judicial training academies around the greater South Asian region.
This event was the third in a global series of engagements with regional judiciaries to explore issues surrounding constitutionalism and environmental rights.