ILEG has been seeking to promote access to environmental justice through various avenues. One of the ways this has been done is through capacity building for persons charged with the responsibility of administering the law.
Judicial officers play a very important role in ensuring access to environmental justice.
The critical role played by the judiciary in ensuring that citizens have avenues and means of seeking redress and enforcement of their environmental rights and duties through the courts made them an important fraternity for discourse in environmental law and policy. In addition, the role of lawyers appearing before judicial officers is important since it is trite that the nature of judgements written largely depends on the quality of the arguements presented before the court.
Since 2006, ILEG has, in partnership with the Centre for Advanced Studies in Environmental Law (CASELAP) of the University of Nairobi and the National Environment Management Authority (NEMA), conducted a series of capacity building workshops for judicial officers and legal practitioners in Kenya on environmental law.
The first series of judicial colloquia were held in January 2006. This saw the training of more than 40 judges of the High Court of Kenya. Present to share their experiences and knowledge were Judges from the High Court Uganda, the High Court Tanzania, the Chief Justice of Land, Environment Courts of the New South Wales, Australia, senior officers of national environmental institutions and eminent professors of environmental law from the University of Nairobi.
This was thereafter followed by two symposia for Magistrates on environmental law and policy later that year. The symposium served to appraise the participants of the current legal policy framework for environmental governance in Kenya and imparting in them with crucial and practical skills to enable them play their roles effectively.
In 2007, with immense support from the Chief Justice, ILEG held the East African Judicial Colloquium for the Court of Appeal Judges bringing together Court of Appeal Justices from Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. This colloquium provided a forum for judges to discourse on, share experiences about developments on the environmental law front in each of their respective countries, exchange ideas on environmental law and mechanisms for promoting sustainable development in East Africa. The colloquium further helped build on the jurisprudence on land and environmental law for three partner states which in future will help to develop a common regional jurisprudence based on common understanding of East Africa.
ILEG has also hosted a series of seminars and symposia on environmental law and policy for lawyers practising in the country. These meetings have brought together lawyers from the public sector, private practice, business and industrial organisations as well as from the non-governmental organisations.
By focusing on environmental issues predominant to the respective regions, participants were quickly able to identify environmental issues that are a part of their day to day lives as citizens in the regions and resulted in lively and highly interactive discussion on how they as lawyers can play a significant role in their communities to ensure environmental integrity. The role of public interest litigation in enhancing environmental governance also played a key role in the discussions and deliberations.
Some of the very exiting successes from the colloquiuaare the contributions that have been made to environmental jurisprudence in Kenya.