2010 “International Court of the Environment: A Prerequisite for Building a Green Society” speech



Professor Agni Vlavianos Arvanitis

President and Founder, Biopolitics International Organisation,

10 Tim. Vassou, Athens 11521, Greece   Tel: (30210) 6432419, Fax: (30210) 6434093

e-mail: bios@otenet.gr   www.biopolitics.gr

One of Ancient Rome’s most outstanding and enduring contributions to modern civilisation was the creation of the Roman Law, which largely still remains timely. Today, an Italian judge proposes and has strived for years to implement a vision for the creation of an International Court of the Environment, a vision which the Biopolitics International Organisation (B.I.O). has always supported. We have also always emphasized that, instead of relying on a punitive function, it is essential for the International Court of the Environment to develop as an institution that can provide new guidelines and set standards for international cooperation and understanding by overcoming the negative prototypes of the past. A beacon, conveying the needed values to help society put an end to the crisis that has resulted in our economic and environmental downfall and to empower a new structure of hope.

The world has been struck by a tsunami of epic proportions; we are witnessing simultaneous crises affecting both the global economy and the global environment. The financial crisis has lead to the loss of jobs and income, unavailability of credit, and economic stagnation. On the environmental front, issues of concern include climate change, a declining resource base and pollution of the air, water and soil. Numerous species of plants and animals are becoming extinct, and fish are disappearing from our oceans. These problems are all inter-related and resolving them will require an unprecedented level of international cooperation. The dual crises are also an unprecedented opportunity to rethink our values, adopt new ethics and build a “Green Society,” a society of environmental harmony and the preservation of life.

In this effort, sound global environmental governance is key. Environmental and economic threats are growing because enlightened leadership is in scarcity in the world today. Effective environmental governance can spur environmental and economic progress by creating the context for change. This requires committed individuals, who can challenge traditional notions of governance with progressive participatory techniques through multi-stakeholder dialogue, systems thinking, and inclusive cross-cultural processes. Priority needs to be given to “green” models for curbing unemployment, eradicating poverty, protecting biodiversity, and promoting clean energy, education, international cooperation and intercultural dialogue. Priority also needs to be given to a new dimension of profit; not profit in terms of money only, but also in terms of values and of ways of rebuilding society.

These elements, however, are like the branches of a tree. Without the right ethical and legislative framework, the tree cannot bear fruit. This framework can be provided by the International Court of the Environment Foundation and by all concerned educators, leaders and decision-makers who see the need for new mechanisms to protect the environment and ensure sustainable development.

For the past 25 years, B.I.O. acts as a driving force to inspire the necessary paradigms for change. We strive to “plant” new ideas and catalyse cooperation by mobilising the collective talent of our network in 151 countries. Through innovative projects and programmes in “biopolicy,” we help to implement worldwide action for sustainable development and peace.

Global governance with environmental sensitivity and vision can encourage action-oriented programmes between governments, business and civil society. Technological developments provide numerous opportunities for the control of emissions from a wide range of sources, and for the remediation of waste sites and polluted waters. Nanotechnology revolutionises the development of “green” products and processes that minimise the production of undesirable by-products. Hydrogen energy production from algae adds new dimensions to the renewable energy sector. Cleaner production and low carbon technologies contribute to climate change mitigation and offer a win-win scenario for businesses everywhere. The concept of “zero-emission” cities brings new hope in urban management, while “green jobs” in areas as diverse as tourism, agriculture and transport improve quality of life, curb unemployment and boost the development of strategies for sustainable livelihoods. Moreover, progressive educational models, such as the InternationalUniversity for the Bio-Environment (I.U.B.E.) launched by B.I.O. in 1990, can help to inspire policy-makers with an environmental vision. The I.U.B.E.’s latest project is an extensive e-learning programme, which comprises more than 20 courses and is carried out in cooperation with 119 countries. This programme makes available a wealth of material and resources online, placing environmental education at the fingertips of every concerned citizen.

Improving our response to worldwide environmental harms also requires institutional support and coordination to implement international environmental agreements and enhance national and global environmental policy making. Bio-diplomacy – international cooperation in environmental protection – can provide the needed momentum in this direction, infusing society with new values and leading to responsible and committed leadership.

It is therefore essential that we fully support the efforts of Honorary President Judge Conso and Director & Founder Judge Postiglione to create the necessary institutional framework for enforcing and protecting sustainable development. I hope that this conference will lay fertile ground for the further growth of this vision, and will encourage global environmental governance development as a vital tool for inspiring the needed societal change.