Story | 03 Feb, 2021

Dialogue: Environmental human rights defenders in the pandemic: the Geneva Roadmap & strengthening IUCN action

IUCN CEESP Virtual Dialogues to #BuildBackBetter

Faced with the deteriorating situation of environmental human rights defenders during the pandemic, how can the conservation community respond more effectively? Specifically, how can the IUCN Secretariat, membership networks and partner efforts be mobilized and strengthened? 

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Photo: © Neil Palmer

There is now a strong call in the conservation community to ensure that the protection of environmental human rights defenders is at the heart of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework. The IUCN network has a clear role to make this happen - not least through the World Conservation Congress, where a resolution will be tabled. Several Congress events, resolutions and activities address the needs and rights of environmental human rights defenders. How to respond effectively in a context of uncertainty?

This webinar brought together environmental defender voices, conservation organizations and others with high level participation of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Ms. Mary Lawlor, and IUCN Regional Director for Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean, Dr Grethel Aguilar.

For further information, see the open access policy article in Conservation Letters co-authored by IUCN Commission members, UN Special Rapporteurs, CSOs and specialists*

Understanding and responding to the environmental human rights defenders crisis: The case for conservation action

* Peter Bille Larsen; Philippe Le Billon; Mary Menton; José Aylwin; Jörg Balsiger; David Boyd; Michel Forst; Fran Lambrick; Claudelice Santos; Hannah Storey; Susan Wilding

Additionally, the short film “Environmental human rights defender crisis: the Geneva Roadmap” by Melanie Nielsen was launched, featuring personal testimonies by defenders. 

Environmental human rights defenders in the pandemic: the Geneva Roadmap & strengthening IUCN action       Photo: © Melanie Nielsen Emonet
It portrays an international effort to bridge responses by the defender networks, the environmental and human rights communities, together with academia around the Geneva Roadmap and four key action goals.

Links to the film with Spanish sustitles is available on the right side of the page, and by clicking here: Responder a la crisis de los defensores del medio ambiente: La agenda de Ginebra

Two hundred twelve (212) land and environmental defenders were killed in 2019 – an average of more than four people a week, according to the Global Witness 2020 report. IUCN CEESP,  IUCN NL and the University of Geneva created this Dialogue to look at these concerns.

View the infographic below for key messages of the Dialogue, including the challenges, lessons learned, quotes, and recommendations to IUCN.

The Dialogue was recorded and is available below.    

Environmental human rights defenders in the pandemic: the Geneva Roadmap & strengthening IUCN action       Photo: Ana Valerie Mandri Rohen & IUCN CEESP


Panelists on the dialogue included

Jörg Balsiger and Peter Bille Larsen - University of Geneva;  Liliana Jauregui - IUCN Netherlands; Judy Pasimio -Purple Action for Indigenous Women's Rights;  Kanyinke Sena - The Indigenous Peoples of Africa Co-ordinating Committee, IPACC; Agustina Calcagno -Fundación Plurales; José Aylwin - ICCA Consortium;  Yves Lador - Earthjustice; Grethel Aguilar - IUCN;  Mary Lawlor - UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders.

To listen to the Dialogue recording, click the image below: