As an answer to the globally devastating environmental crisis, The Kenyan Judiciary hosted the 3rd Regional Symposium on Greening Judiciaries in Africa. The symposium took place from 3rd- 5th April 2023, in Nairobi, Kenya, on the theme, “Strengthening The Role of The Judiciaries in Addressing Climate Change In Africa”. The focus of the symposium was to identify measures and opportunities for promoting climate change-related adjudication in Africa; share experiences, challenges, innovations and prospects in climate change-related adjudication; evaluate the progress made in integrating environmental matters in judicial education; and provide a basis and progression to build on for the 4th Symposium.
In 2017, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), in collaboration with the South African Judicial Education Institute, organized a Colloquium on Integrating Environmental Law Training in Judiciaries in Africa. The Johannesburg Plan of Action was then agreed upon to incorporate environmental law training into African judicial education. Following this, a curriculum and training manual for African countries, and a separate one for Francophone countries, was developed to continue capacity building for judges and magistrates. In 2018, the 2nd Regional Symposium held in Maputo, Mozambique, established AJENEL (Africa Judicial Training Network on Environmental Law) and the 2018 Declaration on Greening Judiciaries in Africa. The Declaration called for judiciaries to cooperate on environmental protection and committed to holding biennial symposia. Kenya was selected as the host of the 3rd Symposium, and the Chief Justice was requested to organize it with support from UNEP, AJENEL and other partners.
The 3rd Symposium on Greening Judiciaries in Africa
This year’s symposium included moderated panel discussions and keynote addresses from expert practitioners of climate change science, policy and law for the adaptation and mitigation measures required for the continent to respond adequately to issues of climate change. The highly participatory hybrid symposium invited virtual questions and interactions within the respective sessions.
In her welcome message, the Chief Justice of Kenya, Honorable Justice Martha Koome, encouraged members of the judiciary to play an active role in the fight for a sustainable environment. She added that the bench should ensure stewardship, justice and sustainability for the African continent and its people. She prodded the participants to find new legal and policy approaches to environmental justice, explore the latest strategies to address climate change issues and create alliances to promote long-term transformation. Finally, she urged the gathering to set the pace for other judiciaries across the continent to emulate within their countries.
Justice Mary Mamyassin Sey, representing the Chief Justice of The Gambia, remarked:
“I thoroughly enjoyed the symposium, and the overall experience was an eye-opener for me
considering that we have not yet established an Environmental Law and Land Court division in
the Judiciary of The Gambia. I also applaud the central role played by the Judiciary Training
Institutes in greening judiciaries in Africa and sharing jurisprudence on climate change matters.”
The 3rd Regional Symposium on Greening Judiciaries in Africa was a remarkable success and a tremendous opportunity for African judiciaries to share knowledge and experiences on environmental jurisprudence. The symposium provided a platform for the judiciaries to collaborate and build partnerships to promote environmental justice for the African continent. It is hoped that the discussions, decisions, and collaborative efforts of this symposium will lead to tangible results in the fight for environmental justice.
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