The 1st Asia and Pacific Colloquium on Environmental Rule of Law under the theme “Defining a New Future for Environmental Justice, Governance and Law" was held in Putrajaya, Malaysia from 11 to 12 December 2013. This was the first regional colloquium organized under the UNEP World Congress for Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability and took place under the patronage of the Chief Justice of Malaysia, the Hon. Tun Arifin Bin Zakaria.
The colloquium constitutes part of follow up activities on the UNEP Governing Council Decision 27/9 adopted in February 2013 on Advancing Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability. The meeting guided by UNEP's International Advisory Council for Environmental Justice and bringing together Chief Justices, high court judges, members of green tribunals, lawyers, environmental auditors and other participants representing the legal and auditing community from over 20 countries engaged in a lively debate on how the sea change that occurred with Governing Council Decision 27/9 can help in promoting rule of law related to sustainable development and environmental sustainability in the Asia and Pacific Region and beyond.
The colloquium culminated in the “Putrajaya Statement” - a progressive document that not only enshrines the concept of environmental rule of law in the minds and hearts of the Chief Justices and other stakeholders in the Asia and Pacific Region, but highlights in concrete terms the importance of environmental rule of law and the right to a healthy environment for environmental and social sustainability. It emphasizes that the rule of law, including environmental rule of law, must be an important consideration in the development of sustainable development goals for it supports the realization of all other goals and fairness to future generations. The Statement also identifies the constituent elements of environmental rule of law to include, inter alia, adequate and implementable laws, access to justice and information, public participation, accountability, transparency, liability for environmental damage, fair and just enforcement, and human rights.
The Outcome of the 1st Asia and Pacific Colloquium on Environmental Rule of Law is the first step towards building, through a regional process led by UNEP, the much needed global consensus on the precise benchmarks for the further development, implementation and measurement of environmental rule of law. Notably, the Putrajaya Statement includes a call to encourage UNEP in the further development and exchange of information, national standards and indicators on environmental rule of law and to continue its valuable support to the Region in the field of environmental law.