ISLAMABAD - Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry on Saturday urged all the provincial governments to do proper legislation for environmental protection.
He was addressing at the inaugural session of South Asia conference on environmental justice held under the aegis of the Supreme Court of Pakistan with collaboration of the Asian Development Bank and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The conference was also attended by judges of South Asian countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sarilanka, Maldives.
A number of central and provincial environmental laws are also in vogue in Pakistan. What is really required from the concerned authorities of Pakistan is to have an overview of environmental law from all the three perspectives i.e. international, sub-regional and national. “No environmental plans can achieve their objectives without mobilising the public/opinion and a wake up call to the stakeholders,” the chief justice said.
The constitution does not articulate environmental protection and preservation issue in any of its provisions, however, the superior courts have interpreted “right to life” used in Article 9 of the constitution and have held that the word “life” used in the said article encompasses the environment in all its dimensions.
The Chief Justice said that the environment concerns have crossed the state frontiers, and have developed a new branch of international law.
Since the 2nd world war enormous legal instruments were formulated in shape of international treaties and conventions, but still its implementations is a matter of prime concern.
“Like many other laws, the environmental law also requires alterations and amendments in order to cater for the contemporary environmental issues,” he added.
The prime legislation pertaining to the environmental protection is the ‘Pakistan Environmental Protection Act’ 1997; which, provides for the conservation, rehabilitation and improvement of the environment and promotion of sustainable development. This act provides for the establishment of environmental protection agency, environmental protection council, environmental tribunals and environment courts.
The SAARC region, which comprises one fifth of the human population in the world is endowed with vast natural resources and habitat, which need special attention by devising effective implementation tools for sustainable development and conservation of the region.
SAARC countries have adopted a series of multilateral environmental agreements to solve the common environmental issues pertaining to climatic changes, stratospheric ozone, shared transnational natural systems and water and air pollution, however, problems still persist. there is a need for building an integrated larger framework for sustainable development.
this objective can be achieved through consultation on national policies and international regimes on which national legislation can be based; as well as sustained commitment on the part of SAARC countries.