February 01, 2024 | University Partners

Indonesian Supreme Court judges and Lancaster University’s conservation experts explore legal responses to environmental harm

Senior judges from Indonesia’s Supreme Court have met with Lancaster University environmental conservation and legal researchers, alongside other visiting experts, to explore and develop the potential of judicial responses to environmental harm in the UK, Indonesia and around the world.

Against the fitting backdrop of Lancaster Castle - once a prison and now the seat of Lancaster Crown Court - the four-day event, hosted by Lancaster Environment Centre, represented a key step forward in expanding understanding of legal remedies to environmental harm, focusing on the need for science-based responses and, crucially, the capacity to implement court-ordered remedies on the ground.

Lancaster University conservation social scientist and co-founder of Conservation-Litigation.org Dr Jacob Phelps said: “This is an enormous opportunity to share experiences and explore solutions to implementing effective legal responses to environmental harm.

“By drawing on examples from different jurisdictions, we hope to be able to drive a radical shift in how legal systems respond to illegal action, ensuring that offenders are held liable for their actions and with the ultimate goal of delivering a healthier environment for all.”

The workshop, which was launched by Lancaster University’s Professor Simon Guy, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Global (Digital, International, Sustainability) and Professor Kirk Semple, Director of International Research, featured presentations from senior members of Indonesia’s judiciary on the opportunities and challenges of recent developments to environmental liabilities in the country.

Professor Takdir Rahmadi, Justice of the Supreme Court of the Republic of Indonesia, said: “We are thrilled that members of the Indonesian National Environmental Working Group have been invited to participate in this Collaborative Learning workshop at the Lancaster Environment Center. This forum has allowed us not only to share the results of our works with other participants, but to learn from them.”

Professor Christina Hicks, and Dr James Fraser from the Lancaster Environment Centre provided key examples from different sectors to highlight the scope of remedies required to actually redress illegal damage done to nature.

The event also welcomed several guest speakers: senior environmental lawyer Professor Valerie Fogleman from Cardiff University led a presentation and discussion on the EU Liability Directive, and Carol Jones of the Environmental Law Institute joined virtually from Washington DC to share the US experience and present emerging cases.

To further the knowledge exchange between Indonesia and the UK, Mrs Justice Nathalie Lieven of the UK judiciary shared experiences of implementing environmental remedies in the UK, while Dr Joana Setzer of the LSE explored the parallels with the climate litigation movement and its potential to drive change for biodiversity.