Between 2014 and 2015, the Universal Rights Group (URG), the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), and the former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and environment, Prof. John Knox, organised two regional consultations – in Geneva and Bangkok – during which environmental human rights defenders (EHRDs) from the African, Asian and European regions came together to provide testimonies and to explain the nature of EHRDs’ work and the challenges they face.
Later, in 2018 the URG and the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) convened and participated in a series of regional meetings in Latin America. During these consultations, EHRDs shared their protection and prevention needs and offered a number of ideas on how the UN and the international community could support their work on how to protect the natural world.
To capture all of these ideas, it was suggested that international civil society, together with relevant parts of the UN, including the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, and UNEP, should come together to develop a single one-stop- shop web portal that would provide relevant information, resources, contacts and advice.
Pursuant to that suggestion, URG, EIA, Global Witness, N1M and other NGOs, in collaboration with the current and former UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights and environment, the UN Environment Programme and Wake Forest University Law School, have come together to design, build and launch such a portal: environment- rights.org.
Help EHRDS to protect themselves, their land and the environment, by providing easy access to relevant information and resources, including contact information of support organisations.
Showcase the vital work carried out by EHRDs and its importance for sustainable development, to raise the visibility of their struggles and counter claims that EHRDs are ‘anti-development.’
Contribute to building the capacities of EHRDs to engage with, and seek help from, international civil society organisations and human rights mechanisms –for example by facilitating access to the UN communications/petition systems.
Help create safe and collaborative platforms where EHRDs from different regions and their support organisations can meet, share their stories, information and strategies, and work together to jointly build capacity.