1st Asia and Pacific International Colloquium on Environmental Rule of Law
Asia and the Pacific is the fastest growing economic region in the world, yet unsustainable growth, population increase, increased consumption and urbanization challenge the Region’s sustainable development. Robust laws, integrated governance structures, enhanced accountability and coordinated sustainability approaches are needed to overcome environmental challenges, which include the management of the Region’s unique wealth in natural resources and biodiversity, rising greenhouse gas emissions, water scarcity, unsustainable consumption and production patterns and the management of chemicals and hazardous waste.
Environmental law is a foundation for environmental sustainability and the full realization of its objectives is ever more urgent vis-à-vis growing environmental pressures. Violations of environmental law undermine the achievement of all dimensions of sustainable development and environmental sustainability.
There are many strengths and successes, particularly in the role of the judiciary, in championing environmental law and sustainable development in the Region.
The rule of law in the field of the environment, environmental rule of law, can make a significant contribution toward the realization of sustainable development founded on open, transparent, accountable, just, as well as dependable legal orders and governance systems.
In order to further advance the development and implementation of environmental rule of law in the Region it is necessary to:
1. Highlight the importance of environmental rule of law and the right to a healthy environment for environmental and social sustainability. The constituent elements of environmental rule of law 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;
2. Emphasize that the rule of law, including environmental rule of law, must be an important consideration in the development of sustainable development goals. It supports the realization of all other goals and fairness to future generations;
3. Continue the dialogue among all relevant stakeholders on environmental rule of law in order to increase cooperation and the national ownership of environmental rule of law measures;
4. Encourage UNEP in the further development and exchange of information, national standards and indicators on environmental rule of law;
5. Enhance, through the mobilization and increase of technical expertise and financial assistance, capacity building initiatives to enable countries to effectively implement and ensure compliance with and enforcement of environmental obligations;
6. Encourage UNEP, as the UN body mandated to lead the UN system and to support Governments in the development and implementation of environmental rule of law,2 to continue its support to the Asia and Pacific Region.
We, the participants of the 1st Asia and Pacific International Colloquium on Environmental Rule of Law, express our sincere appreciation and gratitude to the Right Hon. Tun Arifin Zakaria, Chief Justice of Malaysia, for hosting this important meeting as well as for his leadership in advancing the roles of justice, governance and law for environmental sustainability in the Region and beyond.
Putrajaya, Malaysia, 12 December 2013
1 This document sets out the insights and views expressed by the participants. It is not a negotiated document, but rather a reflection of the broad perspectives and thinking of the participants that does not necessarily represent country or institutional positions or consensus on each and every issue.
2 Decision 27/9 adopted at the 27th and first universal session of UNEP’s Governing Council in February 2013, paragraph 6 (a).