17th “Case Forum” discusses Chinese and international environmental lawsuits

The Supreme People’s Court Judicial Case Research Institute, the Environmental Resources Trial Chamber and the international NGO ClientEarth jointly held the the 17th “Case Forum” at the National Judges College on the 20th of May. The purpose of the forum was to discuss exemplary legal cases from China and abroad concerning environmental resources.

The Supreme People’s Court Party Group Deputy Secretary and Director of the Court Jiang Bixin gave an address at the forum, and Joyce Msuya, Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Acting Executive Director of the UN Environment Programme, delivered a message via video.

Jiang commented in his address on the importance of international cooperation and learning from other area’s experiences and judicial theory when it comes to environmental resource cases. Msuya pointed out that Chinese judges are imperative in encouraging ecological civilization. The UN Environment Programme has partnered with the Supreme People’s Court not only to provide training on environmental governance, but also to tell China’s story to the world. The Supreme People’s Court has already released its “ten exemplary environmental cases” to the United Nations Environment Programme’s global platform.

The “Case Forum” is considered to be an important measure to promote the implementation of the memorandum of understanding between the Supreme People’s Court and the United Nations Environment Program. The forum focused on three topics: social organizations pursuing public interest litigation, procuratorial organs pursuing public interest litigation, and administrative law enforcement in the case of environmental assessments and “not-in-my-back-yard” issues.

The eight cases discussed at the forum were chosen for their exemplariness. They included the “invaluable” environmental public interest litigation case from Taizhou city, Jiangsu province, in which a chemical plant was sued for causing water pollution by the Taizhou Environmental Protection Agency. Foreign cases included United States v. the Duke Energy Corporation.

More than 160 participants from various agencies and organizations attended the forum, including representatives from social organizations, the National People’s Congress and the Supreme People’s Court special supervisors, Chinese and international environmental legal scholars, as well as representatives from judicial organs, procuratorial organs, and environmental supervision departments. In addition, all the students from the National Court environmental resource trial training class participated in the forum.

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