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LAHORE: Lahore High Court Chief Justice Muhammad Yawar Ali said on Monday judges must now consider impact of climate change, especially on vulnerable groups like women and children, and those living in poverty, while interpreting the Constitution and deciding constitutional matters.

He was addressing a two-day Asia Pacific judicial colloquium on climate change held at a hotel on The Mall. Jurists and other stakeholders from across Asia pacific were present.

The chief justice said the colloquium was a reflection of importance given by judges to address climate change and environmental constitutionalism in the region.

He addressed the foreign participants that Pakistan guaranteed environmental rights in some form, ranging from explicit substantive rights to a clean, beneficial and healthy environment.

He said the courts in Punjab, including environmental tribunals and magistrates, were increasingly applying laws in resolving environmental disputes, including those involving climate change.

He said one could see the trends in global environmental constitutionalism and climate litigation in Pakistan and the role of courts from the Supreme Court to the Lahore High Court in creating a link between constitutionalism, climate change and human rights.

Chief Justice Ali said judges in Pakistan had also played a vital role in recognising environmental rights and advancing climate justice considering such issues as separation of powers, environmental rule of law, and the relationship between environmental and other rights.

He said that mere framing new laws did not yield good results unless the laws were strictly implemented in letter and spirit without fear, favour and nepotism. He said efforts were being made for enhancing judicial capacity for adjudicating upon matters relating to climate change and sustainable development issues.

He hoped that the judiciary and legal community would continue efforts to be the leading voice in protecting the environment, addressing climate change, and in paving the way to achieving climate justice in an age of sustainable development.

Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah of the Supreme Court, Federal Shariat Court Chief Justice Sheikh Najamul Hassan, former chief justice of Pakistan Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, Justice Ayesha A Malik, Justice Farrukh Irfan Khan and other judges of the Lahore High Court also attended the event.

Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2018