Rio, 29/04: GLOBE supports epic World Environmental Law Congress

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Rio, 29/04: GLOBE supports epic World Environmental Law Congress

The Congress gathered hundreds of delegates concerned with the environmental rule of law, justice and planetary sustainability for notable outcomes: the World Declaration on the Environmental Rule of Law and the founding of the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment.



The Congress was held in the vast and awe-inspiring main chamber of the Supreme Court of the state of Rio de Janeiro. It opened with speeches by the Chief Justice and other dignitaries, along with a special recital by the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra; and closed in true Brazilian style with an unforgettable Samba performance by the winners of this year’s iconic Rio carnival parade.

The brainchild of the legendary Brazilian jurist and environmental law specialist, Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, the multi-faceted Congress was held under the auspices of IUCN and in collaboration with UNEP. Both Inger Andersen, secretary-general, IUCN, and Achim Steiner, Executive Director, UNEP, were present and actively engaged. The latter – who was born in Brazil – was honored for his contributions to the environment by Rio’s highest honour, the Tiradentes Medal at a special ceremony during the Congress.

The event drew heavily on an impressive network of Brazilian and international partners ranging from the Brazilian Association of Judges (AMB) and Getulio Vargas Foundation, to the Organisation of American States (OAS), the International Association of Judges (IAJ), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), GLOBE International and others.

It brought together the world’s leading justices, Brazilian ministers, indigenous leaders, environmental law experts, academics and others to review and support the development of the environmental rule of law globally. It saw a particularly strong delegation from Africa, with more than half of the continent’s countries represented by senior judges, legislators and experts. In fact, it was the largest such delegation from Africa to attend an international environmental law event outside of the continent itself. The role of UNEP’s Division for Environmental Law and Conventions (DELC) – also a GLOBE partner – was recognised as being instrumental in this achievement.

As the organisers noted, the Congress came “at a critical time in the context of worldwide efforts to promote sustainable development. In the face of increasing environmental crises – including climate change, biodiversity loss, and water and food scarcity – new thinking and expanded efforts are needed to fill gaps in legal systems, strengthen implementation, compliance, and enforcement, and build support for the environmental rule of law."

Engaging parliamentarians in a proactive manner was seen as crucial to the success of this effort and GLOBE International was honoured to be chosen as the key partner to lead on this engagement with legislators for the Congress.

GLOBE organised the main session engaging legislators, government agencies, civil society and the rule of law on Friday 29 th April. Held in the main chamber of the Supreme Court, the session was chaired by Senator Jorge Viana, Vice-President, Senate of Brazil, and Malini Mehra, CEO, GLOBE International secretariat.

It saw speeches by a range of distinguished ministers, ambassadors and leading legislators, including several from the GLOBE network. The keynote address was delivered by the prominent Brazilian political leader and former minister of environment, Senator Marina Silva. Another distinguished speaker, Congressman Sarney Filho, has recently taken over from Minister Isabella Texeira as Brazil’s new environment minister.

GLOBE was delighted at engagement by senior GLOBE parliamentarians from Asia, Africa, Europe and Latin America, including Senator Loren Legarda (Phillipines), Deputy Cheikhou Oumar Sy (Senegal), Deputy Viviane le Dissez (France), Deputy Braulio Guerra Urbiola (Mexico), Deputy Juan Carlos Villalonga (Argentina), Deputy Daniel Melo and Deputy Andrea Molina (Chile).

This event was a highly successful follow-up to the legislators-judges dialogue session that GLOBE International had organised for the first time at its GLOBE COP21 Legislators Summit at the French Parliament in Paris in December. It is hoped that this pioneering work, in close partnership with IUCN and UNEP, will continue to inspire and inform.

A further GLOBE International follow-up on the heels of the WELC in Brazil, is likely to take place at IUCN’s World Conservation Congress in Hawai’i in September 2016. 

A full report of the GLOBE legislators session at WELC on Friday 29th April can be found here.

Full details of the WCEL 2016, including outcome documents and speeches, will be available from the WCEL website shortly: www.welcongress.org

For further information, please contact: secretariat@globelegislators.org