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Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability Seminar Highlights - Why and How?

On December 1st, Sida, UNDP and the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, SEPA held a Human Rights and Environmental Sustainability - Why and How? seminar in Stockholm, Sweden on the importance of integrating a human rights perspective in environmental matters and the importance of environmental sustainability for human rights to achieve a path toward Agenda 2030 - for better sustainable development outcomes for people, planet and prosperity.

Ulrika Åkesson moderated the seminar, which featured John Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment (on video) and Baskut Tuncak, Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Hazardous Substances and Waste, who gave speeches on their respective mandates.The seminar’s first panelists included Ulrika Modéer, State Secretary to the Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate as well as the following prominent panelists and speakers Johanna Lissinger Pietz, ‎Senior Advisor and Chief Climate Change Negotiator for Sweden,‎ Ministry for Environment and Energy, Joan Carling, Regional Director, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact and Anna Tibblin, Head of International programs, WeEffect. The second panel moderated by Endre Stinasen from OGC (Oslo Governance Centre) and included Pablo Ruiz Hiebra, UNDP Panama, John Andrew McNeish, Professor of International Development and Environmental Studies at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Luis Francisco Thais, UNDP Peru. The third and final panel included participants from the the Environmental Governance Programme, EGP Global Programme Manager, Maria Bang, Wangui Rose Kimotho, Programme Manager at the Institute for Human Rights and Business, Dr. Bernard Mogesa, Head of Research and Compliance at the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, and Dr.Ouma, Head of the Compliance Department at the Kenya National Environmental Authority (NEMA). 

Speakers and panel discussions highlighted the need to integrate human rights and environmental sustainability to ensure the protection of the environment and people’s -- including ones in vulnerable situations -- rights to dignity, life, and health. John Knox spoke about the states’ “overarching obligation…to protect their citizens and residents from environmental harm that interferes with human rights”, which includes, as Baskut Tuncak presented, the states’ “duty to prevent childhood exposure to toxic pollution”. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in 2012, 1.7 million children under the age of five died from an unhealthy environment; there is an increase in childhood cancer and pediatricians are referring to it as “a silent pandemic”.

The seminar also focused on the role of indigenous peoples and local communities in environmental protection. The panelists called for more action in involving local communities and of showing the social and economic benefits in a transparent and equitable way. Local communities are facing increasing threats of climate change and resource extraction, which often drives violence and displacement. According to the Global Witness report, 2015 was the deadliest year for environmental defenders in countries where they are systematically marginalized and criminalized for defending their tribal land rights and customary practices. Conflict prevention such as ensuring land tenure, gender equality, protection of children's rights and health, and indigenous empowerment were at the core of the discussions around human rights and environmental management. The Environmental Governance Programme (EGP) panelists highlighted that environmental sustainability is not only about technical challenges but also about power imbalances and inequalities, which is why human rights are so important for furthering the environmental agenda. They emphasized the key roles of state and the public administration for all realization of human rights and the need for partnerships in strengthening environmental governance of the mining sector through examples of the work carried out in Kenya.

 

The event was streamed live and recorded.

Welcoming words by Lennart Båge, Sida's acting Director General

https://bambuser.com/v/6550492#t=1s   

Mr John Knox

Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (on video recorded message)

https://bambuser.com/v/6550492#t=605s

Mr Baskut Tuncak

Special Rapporteur on the implication for human rights of hazardous substances and wastes – his latest report is available here.

https://bambuser.com/v/6550492#t=1410s

 
Panel discussion;
Ulrika Modéer, State Secretary to the Minister for International Development Cooperation and Climate; Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Johanna Lissinger Pietz, ‎Senior Advisor and Chief Climate Change Negotiator for Sweden,‎ Ministry for Environment and Energy
Joan Carling, Regional Director, Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact
Anna Tibblin, Head of International programs, WeEffect

https://bambuser.com/v/6550492#t=2435s

OGC UNDP (Oslo Governance Centre) – panel

example from Peru – includes private sector partnership

https://bambuser.com/v/6550671
 
SEPA/ UNDP – using an Environment and HR approach: role of the state and partnership

example of a global program in four countries (Colombia, Mongolia, Kenya and Mozambique) within the mining industry

https://bambuser.com/v/6550671#t=3383s

Wrap up and the way forward

Sida’s Lead Policy advisors on Democracy & Human rights and Environment & Climate Change together with facilitator

https://bambuser.com/v/6550671#t=5411s


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