Prof Morgera invited to advice European External Action Service on Biodiversity and Human Rights

May 2021 — On 4th May 2021, Prof Morgera was invited by the European External Action Service (EEAS) to contribute to a virtual roundtable discussion on human rights and the environment. The initiative is a response to the recommendations made by Prof Morgera in her 2020 study for the EU Parliament on “biodiversity as a human rights” for the EEAS to develop EU Human Rights Guidelines on the right to a healthy environment.

Image by Jay Mantri via Unsplash 

The roundtable was organized over two days to advance our implementation of the environment and human rights priorities in the newly adopted EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024. Around 60 participants joined the event under the Chatham House Rule. 

The first panel explored the human rights impact on vulnerable populations, the role of civil society holding states and businesses accountable, and the role of public authorities in adopting and ensuring compliance with environmental legislation. It was moderated by Fiona Harvey, the Guardian, with speakers including Bart Vandewaetere, VP Corporate Communications and Government Relations at Nestlé, and Minnie Degawan, Director of Indigenous and Traditional Peoples Program at Conservation International. 

Prof Morgera’s key contributions can be summarized as follows:

  • International human rights law has clarified the need for legislative guarantees and justiciability of international biodiversity law;
  • There is an opportunity to include more explicit language on human rights in the draft post-2020 global biodiversity framework currently being negotiated under the UN Biodiversity Convention, and an obligation to prevent the introduction of language that would undermine the respect of human rights in that context;
  • EU bodies should rely on international guidance adopted under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity to ensure policy coherence in addressing human rights and biodiversity, including as a matter of business responsibility to respect human rights and responsibilities of environmental NGOs;
  • Specific attention should be paid to marine biodiversity, including in international climate and ocean discussions;
  • Specific protection should be offered to ocean and human rights defenders (including in the context of conservation initiatives).

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