If a judicial conference on environmental and climate-change adjudication were to be held for Africa, it is hard to imagine who would attend. It is rare that courts in the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) hear disputes that confront environmental issues head-on, and judges with particular knowledge of relevant international protocols, agreements and standards are even more rare.

But times are changing. Last week the Judicial Institute for Africa (Jifa) held its first specialist training course on environmental law for judges from Sadc countries. The week-long training — based, appropriately, at Stellenbosch University’s Sustainability Institute — brought together judges from many African countries, in addition to internationally respected faculty.

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