World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability Tue, Mar 27, 2012

Opening Statement by Ms. Amina Mohammed, UNEP Deputy Executive Director

Opening Statement by Ms. Amina Mohammed, UNEP Deputy Executive Director

Welcoming remarks

Your Excellencies, Distinguished delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure to be here today to officially launch the World Congress on Justice, Governance and Law for Environmental Sustainability.

This initiative is one of the most important tools to translate words into action, and more importantly so in light of the unique opportunity that Rio+20 is offering us to devise the right strategies for an environmentally sustainable development path, for the current and future generations.

I am very pleased to see among the audience high level representatives of the judiciary, auditing institutions, foreign affairs ministries and international organizations. I cannot thank each one of you individually for being here, but I would to acknowledge in particular the presence of distinguished guests from Brazil. This is an initiative that has been conceptualized in close cooperation with a number of distinguished Brazilians many of whom are here today.

I recognize Ambassador Figueiredo (Ambassador Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Director-General of the Department for the Environment and Special Affairs, Ministry of External Relations): we are working very closely with you and your country and we share a common personal and institutional commitment to an ambitious outcome from the Rio+20.

I also recognize the presence of:

- Hon. Dr. Roberto Monteiro Gurgel Santos, The Attorney General of Brazil

- Hon. Mr. Cláudio Soares Lopes, Attorney General of the State of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

- Hon. Mr. Claudio dell'Orto, the Association of Magistrates and Judges in the State of Rio de Janeiro ? AMAERJ (co-hosting the World Congress)

- Hon. Mr. Julio Assis Correa Pinheiro, Auditor General of the State of the Amazonas

- Senator Rodrigo Rollemberg, Vice President of GLOBE Brazil and Chairman of the Brazilian Senate Committee on Environment

I finally acknowledge Hon. Mr. Antonio Herman Benjamin - Justice at the High Court of Justice of Brazil - who has been tirelessly supporting UNEP in the design and planning of the World Congress.

While other speakers will provide further insights into the World Congress, I would like to focus on three points: why UNEP undertook this initiative; the importance of a strong process; and the expectations that we have from the World Congress.

Why the initiative

Heads of State, Ministers of Environment, Heads of Delegations will at the Rio+20 Conference decide how to move forward to achieve largely shared sustainable development objectives. They will make important decisions on how to advance a green economy, in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and on the appropriate institutional framework for sustainable development.

Their decisions, however ambitious, will not result in real change unless we can count on the support of those who can give it meaning in their day to day work. Engaging with high - level representatives of the judiciary, prosecutors, and public auditing institutions - together with other representatives of fundamental legal functions at national level - will not only provide an occasion to hear special, authoritative voices on the themes to be addressed at the Summit, but will also prepare the ground for securing the support of those national functions that can inspire, support and eventually apply any global policy shift.

The World Congress will therefore bring together Attorneys - General, Chief Prosecutors, Auditors - General, Chief Justices and Senior Judges and other legal practitioners from around the world to foster a common vision and principles on how to use justice, governance and law to promote sustainable development through the outcomes of Rio +20 and beyond, and how to move from intellectual debate into action. The World Congress will be held in Rio de Janeiro on 17 - 20 June 2012, and we expect that its outcome will be delivered to the President of the Rio+20.

The choice to bring together these authoritative voices - as a complement to the many initiatives that involve decision-makers from the executive branch, who are traditionally involved in decision-making in multilateral fora - responds to the ambitious view that all sectors of government need to engage in pursuing environmental sustainability, particularly to fully operationalize the inextricable link between environmental sustainability and the other - social and economic - dimensions of sustainable development.

I believe that this view is widely shared, as key international organizations, engaged in the entire spectrum of the legal continuum, from law making to its enforcement, have decided to join UNEP in this important endeavour. UNEP is deeply honoured to count among its partners:

- Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

- International Criminal Police Organization (Interpol)

- International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions - Working Group on Environmental Auditing (INTOSAI - WGEA)

- Organization of American States (OAS)

- South Pacific Regional Environment Program (SPREP)

- World Bank

- International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

I am happy to see that some of them are represented here and will be able to offer their insight on this initiative as part of a panel discussion.

We are also deeply honoured that the World Congress will be co-hosted by the Association of Magistrates and Judges of the State of Rio (Association Associação dos Magistrados do Estado do Rio de Janeiro -AMAERJ), represented here through its President Mr. Dell'Orto.


UNEP is able to count also, in its preparatory efforts in advance of the World Congress, on the wise advice of a group of renowned international experts, some of which are with us today and will speak after me.

We are not at the beginning of this process. Work started already last year, when the First Preparatory Meeting was held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (12-13 October 2011). The meeting resulted in the Kuala Lumpur Statement, which reflects very important insights on the importance of appropriate legal and governance underpinnings and the role of justice for achieving Environmental Sustainability. I quote "

UNEP is also capitalizing on the work done in the last decade, with various partners, across the regions, and with the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders active on environmental law and governance issues. UNEP kick-started some of this work with the Global Judges Symposium that was held just prior to the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002, and was followed by a global capacity building programme.


The Congress will focus on three themes:

- The future of environmental: emerging issues and opportunities

- Social Justice and Environmental Sustainability: new approaches

- The challenges of environmental governance at national, regional and global levels: improving effectiveness.

Each of these themes will touch on emerging issues and approaches, and will be examined keeping in mind the two main themes of the World Congress: the Green Economy and the Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development. It will also keep in mind the objective of the Rio+20 Conference to review progress in implementing the outcomes of global summits and, especially, to address emerging challenges.

Some of the questions that will emerge might be:

For Environmental law: What will it take to anchor green economy strategies at national level on a strong legal basis? What legal approaches can be used to address the environment in the global commons? And transnational environmental crime?

Regarding Governance: What makes a governance system affective in addressing environmental problems, in the current economic, social and cultural environment? How can we overcome fragmentation and ensure a more comprehensive and coherent approach to environmental problems and more inclusive decision-making processes?

On Justice: What are the legal means, appropriate governance structures, and decision - making mechanisms to promote social justice and environmental objectives in a synergistic way? To fully integrate the concept of natural capital into national policies? to guarantee the broad and non - discriminatory access to ecosystem services to all? What accountability mechanisms are needed?

It is our hope that the discussions at the World Congress will help advance the objectives of Promoting the further evolution of international and national environmental law; Contributing to effective national and international environmental governance; and Strengthening the nexus between social justice and environmental sustainability.

Considering that Rio+20 will not the end of a process but rather the beginning, UNEP also hopes that the World Congress will create the foundations for a strong, well structured partnership among the legal community worldwide to support the work that will be before us in a few months time, if ambitious decisions are made. I hope that this process will create the momentum for a well-thought, targeted and effective programme for strengthening the potential for the legal community to advance environmental sustainability. I know we can count for this on the right partners, and the Rio+20 offers us an unique opportunity to act on this.

comments powered by Disqus