Launch on the UN Environmental Rights Initiative
Environmental rights are enshrined in over 100 constitutions yet almost four people a week are killed defending those rights, while many more are harassed, intimidated and forced from their lands. Around 40-50 percent of the 197 environmental defenders killed in 2017 came from indigenous and local communities.
But the environmental defenders’ crisis is not confined to indigenous communities. Violations of environmental rights are on the rise worldwide fueled by corruption, greater competition for natural resources, weak enforcement, and the irresponsible exploitation of land and other natural goods.
The links between human rights and the environment are rapidly gaining recognition at the international level, including through the adoption of groundbreaking UN Human Rights Council Resolutions on Human Rights and the Environment and on Environmental Human Rights Defenders, as well as a UN General Assembly Resolution on the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.
The UN’s Environmental Rights Initiative aims to bring environmental protection nearer to the people by helping them to better understand their rights and how to defend them; by working with media to improve coverage of rights issues; by calling on the private sector to move beyond a culture of compliance to one where environmental rights are championed; and by assisting governments to implement environmental rights obligations.
During the panel discussion to mark the launch of the UN’s Environmental RIghts Initiative experts will try to answer the following questions:
- What is driving increasing violations of environmental rights?
- What are the world’s worst affected countries and communities?
- How can a rights-based-approach to natural resource management make a difference?
- Where is law and enforcement letting us down and what can we do about it?
- How important is citizen engagement in mitigating violations?
- Are things going to get worse before they get better?
Panel discussion with:
Professor John Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment
Mr Jon Watts, Global Environment Editor, The Guardian
Ms Bianca Jagger, President and Chief Executive, Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation
Mr Patrick Alley, Global Witness Co-Founder
Ms Kate Gilmore, Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
Ms Elizabeth Maruma Mrema, UN’s leading expert on environmental law
Q & A
Read the concept note of the event here.
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