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Africa moves to sustainably green its judiciaries

African Chief Justices and Presidents of Supreme and Regional courts on Wednesday, August 1, 2018 commenced a three-day symposium in the Mozambican’s capital of Maputo to discuss how to strengthen adjudication of environmental disputes in Africa. The symposium aims at establishing Sustainable Green Judiciaries across the continent through empowering judicial training institutions.

Adelino Manuel Muchanga

Adelino Manuel Muchanga, Chief Justice of Mozambique

Participating in the second symposium on greening the judiciaries in Africa are also judicial educators, heads of judicial education institutions, representatives of judicial systems from France, Brazil, Bhutan, and Sri Lanka. The symposium is supported by Institut de la Francophonie pour le development durable, UN Office on Drugs and Crime, the Austrian Government, the Swiss Government, International Fund for Animal Welfare and the International Commission of Jurists.

“The judiciary is uniquely placed as a body that can transform and advance environmental matters. Enhancing the capacity of judges and magistrates is critical to the achievement of sustainable development goals,” said Adelino Manuel Muchanga, Chief Justice of Mozambique.

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Participants will also discuss how to empower judicial training institutions in Africa on environmental matters. The objective is to equip judges, magistrates and judicial staff with knowledge and skills on adjudication and resolution of environment cases to ensure environmental sustainability.

“You have a critical role to play in ensuring environmental matters are adequately and fairly adjudicated to ensure the environmental injustice is mitigated or avoided,” said Elizabeth Mrema, Director of Law Division, UN Environment, at the opening of the symposium.

“This symposium provides a platform for you as heads of judiciaries, to discuss the emerging trends on adjudication of environment cases to strengthen the rule of law, promote and sustain judicial education, among others,” she added.

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A regional curriculum and manual on environmental law for Judges and Magistrates will be launched at the symposium.

Participants will also seize the opportunity to launch the Africa Judicial Educators Network on Environmental Law.

“It is the expectation of the Africa Judicial Educators Network on Environmental Law that the use of the curriculum and manual will contribute to sustainable development in Africa and consequently in the whole world,” said Justice Sir Dennis Adjei, the chairperson of the Africa Judicial Educators Network on Environmental Law.

The African Judicial Network on Environmental Law will provide opportunities for exchanging information, create partnerships for collaboration, strengthen capacity, and provide research and analysis on environmental adjudication, court practices, and environmental rule of law.

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A judiciary well informed of the rapidly expanding boundaries of environmental law issues would play a critical role in ensuring a healthy and secure environment through the interpretation, enhancement and enforcement of environmental law.

Trainings on environmental law in Africa have always been ad hoc and inconsistent. With this new approach to integrate environmental law through curriculum and manual development, a sustainable training programme for the judiciary is achievable.

Illegal trading of natural resources is estimated to cost Africa US$120 billion per annum, which is 5% of the Continent’s GDP. A strong judiciary system will help Africa to curb these illegal activities in environment and natural resources and use the savings to achieve its sustainable development goals.

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