Antonio Herman Benjamin, Brazil

16 April 2012 | Article

I have been working with the IUCN Commission on Environmental Law – CEL for almost twenty years. For the past four years I have been its deputy-chair. In Brazil, I was an environmental public prosecutor for 24 years. As a law professor, I have organized capacity-building programs for environmental protection agencies and ministries, judges, public prosecutors and NGOs in both Latin America and Africa, often in cooperation with UNEP, the Organization of American Sates, INECE, the Secretariat of conservation conventions and other international organizations.

Although I recognize that environmental law has made significant advances since the early 1970s at international, regional and national levels, I am also aware that on all relevant indicators the state of the global environment has significantly declined.

We can take some small comfort in the fact that without all of the regulatory initiatives that have been developed over the past 40 years, the situation might be considerably worse than it is at present. In this context, I am convinced that part of the problem has to do with the so called “enforcement gap”.

In order to face this reality and in light of the “One Programme”, CEL has to work together with the other Commissions, especially in the area of legal and scientific capacity-building for both judicial and administrative enforcement.

The basic philosophy that I would promote is one of integration within the Union at every level: knowledge generation, institutional structures, educational development, economic considerations and legal frameworks. Under advice from scientific experts, I would propose to take a biome-oriented approach to the Commission’s work programme.

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