What you need to know:
- Formerly known as the 1992 Rio Declaration, the ‘polluter pays’ principle is a commonly accepted practice for those who cause pollution to bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment.
Judiciaries from 32 African countries have resolved to "do what needs to be done" to make polluters accountable for their actions.
Their resolve includes 11 actions they will take in playing their role in combating climate change.
The judiciaries made the resolve at a three-day symposium held in Nairobi, themed 'Strengthening the Role of Judiciaries in Addressing Climate Change in Africa'. President William Ruto graced the symposium, the third of its kind on Greening Judiciaries.
The judiciaries adopted proposals based on the 'polluters pay' principle, which obligates the world’s biggest emitters to take responsibility for their actions.
The event held this week also incorporated the 3rd Chief Justices Forum on Environmental Law and the 3rd General Conference of the Africa Judicial Education Network on Environmental Law (AJENEL).
Formerly known as the 1992 Rio Declaration, the ‘polluter pays’ principle is a commonly accepted practice that those who produce pollution should bear the costs of managing it to prevent damage to human health or the environment.
Chief Justice Martha Koome, like other international speakers, stressed the need to figure out how to quantify loss and damage, thereby ensuring justice when pollution occurs.
An official joint communiqué of the symposium by chief justices, deputy chief justices, presidents and judges of apex and regional courts, judges, magistrates, heads of tribunals, directors of judiciary training institutes, and other judicial delegations of AJENEL was issued on Wednesday.
Known as the 'Nairobi Communique', it says the judicians have committed to these 11 proposals:
- Call upon the Executive and Legislative branches of the member states to develop progressive policies and laws, and reforms thereof, aimed at combating climate change including on climate.
- Call upon the Executive and Legislative branches of the member states to develop progressive policies and laws, and reforms thereof, aimed at combating climate change including on climate financing, and establishment of courts and tribunals to handle environment and climate change matters.
- Urge the Executive and Legislatures to develop measures and frameworks that will enhance the enforcement of decisions issued by the Judiciaries.
- Further urge the Executive and Legislatures to embrace broad consultations in the development of legal frameworks for environmental and climate governance.
- Call upon Member States to consider the trans-boundary nature of climate change factors and develop appropriate regional frameworks to combat climate change.
- Urge Judiciaries to enhance access to justice in environmental and climate change matters, including embracing Alternative Justice Systems and Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms in the resolution of matters related to the environment and climate change.
- Further, urge Judiciaries to deliberate and develop Guidelines to enforce Orders given by Courts to remedy violations that affect the right to a clean and healthy environment including, the climate.
- Encourage the United Nations Environment Programme, the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment, and other Partners to continue supporting the development and implementation of programmes designed to improve the knowledge and skills of Judicial officers and staff in climate change law and principles.
- Agree to remain seized of the matters discussed in the 3rd Regional Symposium, and to organize the next Symposium in 2025 in collaboration with Member States, the United Nations Environment Programme, the Africa Judicial Training Network on Environmental Law, and other Partners to organize and support the Symposium.
- Urge Judiciaries and Judiciary Training Institutes to take necessary measures and steps to implement commitments reached during the 3rd Regional Symposium on Greening Judiciaries in Africa.
- On capacity development and knowledge management,they resolved to encourage judiciaries to develop and integrate modules on environment and climate change in their curricula ,actively seek collaborations with other disciplines, professions, and sector, support Judiciaries in the development of transformative jurisprudence on climate change, including on the rights of women and other vulnerable groups, on traditional and indigenous knowledge on environment and climate change and leverage on technology to handle climate change matters, network and share jurisprudence, information, and experiences including establishing repositories of decisions on climate change and online trainings apart from apart from encouraging countries to sensitize judicial officers and staff and the public.