Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment: Natural Capital and the Rule of Law
On December 3-5, 2013, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) hosted the Second Asian Judges Symposium on Environment: Natural Capital and the Rule of Law in partnership with the Supreme Court of the Philippines, United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), World Wildlife Fund (WWF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Freeland Foundation, at the ADB Headquarters, Philippines. The three-day symposium, attended by senior judges, environment ministry officials, prosecutors, environmental law practitioners, enforcers and luminaries, and civil society representatives from Asia and the Pacific, aimed to: (a) share updates on the Asian Judges Network on Environment (AJNE) and judicial innovations in cases relevant to environment and natural capital since the First Asian Judges Symposium; (b) share information on the concept of natural capital and consider the state of Asia and the Pacific's key ecosystems and ecosystems services that form its natural capital and their economic value; (c) consider the laws, and the law enforcement challenges affecting the Asia Pacific's natural capital, and the role of judges in the Asia Pacific in deciding cases affecting natural capital; and consider how the AJNE can promote a wider understanding among the judiciary of natural capital as a relevant concept for informing decision-making and how it can best serve the needs of Asian judiciaries.
The symposium also served as a venue to formally launch the AJNE, a more permanent framework for cooperation borne out of the efforts of 110 participants including our Chief Justice, at the First Asian Judges Symposium held in Manila in 2010. The AJNE underscores the critical role that Asian judiciaries play in promoting cooperation among Asia Pacific region judges in enforcing environmental laws, generating knowledge of environmental challenges, and in the sharing of experiences in dealing with such challenges.
Officials from the host and partner agencies led the Opening Session with Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno delivering the Opening Remarks. Forming part of the Philippine delegation from the judiciary were Supreme Court Associate Justices Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr. and Diosdado M. Peralta, Judge Divina Luz P. Aquino-Simbulan and PHILJA Chancellor Adolfo S. Azcuna who spoke in the said symposium and selected trial court judges.Panel discussions were held to discuss challenges in judicial decision making on issues regarding natural capital; on innovation for judicial decision making; and on strengthening capacity to decide natural resource cases.