The high-level colloquium at the Senate Plenary Chamber, approved by the 81 Senate Members, provided a rare forum for debate among the three powers of government: executive, legislature and judiciary.
Occasioned by the imminent launch of the Global Judicial Institute for the Environment, spearheaded by eminent Brazilian jurist Justice Antonio Hernan Benjamin, the colloquium was held in association with a range of national and international partners including UNEP, Organisation of American States (OAS), Brazilian Association of Judges, Brazilian federal and state governments, and chaired by Senate Vice-President Jorge Viana.
The support for the initiative by the federal government was clearly visible through the active presence of Ambassador Mauro Vieira, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Brazil, Minister Isabella Texeira, Minister of the Environment, and Brazil’s chief negotiator at COP21 in Paris, Ambassador Jose Antonio Marcondes de Carvalho.
The colloquium focused on the implications of the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals for the further development of environmental law and policy. Given their universal application, each country must now re-examine its legal, administrative and judicial frameworks with regard to the protection of vulnerable ecosystems and natural resources – especially those of a global character such as the climate system and biodiversity.
The event was an exceptional opportunity at which representatives of all three branches of government – legislative, executive and judicial – gathered to discuss and debate responses to these challenges, together with the additional participation of external experts.
Brazil’s stake in this issue as a leader of the debate was evident in all contributions made from the floor and the podium. The country is a biodiversity giant (home to 70% of all registered plant species) with a special relationship to the sustainable development debate as host of the 1992 Rio Earth Summit. Its leadership on climate change was also widely recognised in the lead-up to the Paris climate summit, and contributed to the eventual adoption of the Paris Agreement in December 2015.
The debate saw high-level participation by Brazilian legislators from both houses, including Senator Mario Biaggi and Congressman Sarney Filho, as well as from IUCN Secretary General, Inger Andersen, and senior judges from Supreme Courts, Environmental Courts and Green Tribunals from around the world, and experts from UNEP, other international organisations, academia and civil society.
GLOBE International was delighted to be invited as a contributor to the debate and Malini Mehra, CEO of the GLOBE International secretariat, had the honour of addressing the Senate on GLOBE’s work and contribution to the theme of more joined-up governance and integrated policymaking.
The colloquium was carried on Brazil’s parliament TV and saw good media coverage.