Contact Persons:

Yves LADOR, Earthjustice Representative to the UN in Geneva

Peter BILLE LARSEN, Senior Lecturer and Researcher, Environmental Governance and Territorial Development at the Institute for Environemental Sciences (ISE) , University of Geneva

The Geneva Road Map 40/11 on the protection of the rights of persons engaged in the defense of the environment seeks to ensure the effective implementation of the right to act for the protection of the environment and to promote free and safe spaces for information and discussion on environmental matters.

From Human Right Council Resolution 40/11 to the Geneva Roadmap 40/11

The Human Rights Council resolution 40/11 – Recognizing the contribution of environmental human rights defenders to the enjoyment of human rights, environmental protection and sustainable development– was adopted by the Human Rights Council by consensus on 21 March 2019. Following the adoption, platforms, coalitions and networks of defenders met in February 2020 to launch the Geneva Roadmap 40/11 for the implementation of this Human Rights Council Resolution 40/11.

The actions envisaged at the time were thwarted by the pandemic and its consequences, but the orientations of this Roadmap defined then remain fully relevant. Its preparation included an expert meeting to help articulate and put forward possible steps of action for the research, environmental and human rights communities to feed into human rights processes as well as environmental ones.

Mobilizing International Geneva

On 27 February 2020, an HRC43 side event in Geneva on The Environmental Human Rights Defenders Crisis – Towards a Geneva Road Map explored how to mobilize the international community from both the human rights and the conservation fields to respond to the ongoing crisis and to join forces towards the implementation of Resolution 40/11. It discussed how to strengthen the effective implementation of the right to act for the protection of the environment and to promote free and safe spaces for information and discussion on environmental matters.

With the support of Switzerland and Fiji and with the participation of environmental defenders, NGOs and academic institutions, the event aimed to strengthen the dialogue process to help shape key building blocks for the Geneva Road Map aiming at the implementation of Resolution 40/11, to review the progress made, to discuss the needs, different perspectives and how the international community can improve its responses.

This was preceded by a public roundtable on 26 February 2020, on Supporting Environmental Defenders – How Can We Mobilize the International Community?, which combined testimonies from environmental defenders with recent academic analysis and responses from high-level representatives from International Geneva and the Mayor of Geneva.

The event was organized in the context of the international conference “Towards a Geneva Road Map: Responding to the Needs of the Environmental Civil Society and Defenders”.

Addressing the Crisis in the Pandemic

Faced with the deteriorating situation of environmental human rights defenders during the pandemic, an online webinar was held by IUCN on 10 November 2021, asking, “How can the conservation community respond more effectively?”

The event also launched a short film by Melanie Nielsen “Responding to the Environmental Defenders Crisis: The Geneva Roadmap”.

You can rewatch the dialogue, “Environmental Human Rights Defenders in the Pandemic: Geneva Roadmap and Strengthening IUCN Action” on the IUCN website.

On 9 March 2021, a side event to HRC46, “Geneva Roadmap 40/11 | Environmental Human Rights Defenders | Milestones and Opportunities in 2021” also took stock of the milestones of the Geneva Roadmap amidst the pandemic, and presented the opportunities to implement the protection of environmental defenders.

Conservation NGOs at Risk

Halting biodiversity loss is an illusion without securing enabling spaces for conservation NGOs… We need a post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework with space for organizations and individuals who stand up for biodiversity.

– Peter Bille Larsen, University of Geneva

One week before the critical global gathering to hammer out a new global biodiversity agenda in Geneva, a new report, Conservation NGOs at risk: The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and shrinking environmental civic spaces, by the University of Geneva stresses the shrinking civic spaces, deteriorating conditions and attacks faced by conservation NGOs across the world. Based on a global survey and wider consultations with the NGO members of IUCN, the report sheds light on a silent crisis of NGOs struggling with harassment and shrinking spaces and needs urgent attention. The report builds on ongoing work to Geneva Roadmap 40/11 and underlines the importance of enabling environments to secure effective and equitable conservation.

The launch event on 9 March 2022, organized in the run-up towards the CBD meetings in Geneva, presented the key findings by the author followed by hands-on perspectives from multiple NGO expert perspectives from around the world.

Partner Organizations

International Geneva

Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)

CIEL is committed to strengthening and using international law and institutions to protect the environment, promote human health, and ensure a just and sustainable society.


Earthjustice is a nonprofit public interest environmental law organization.

University of Geneva

Founded in 1559 by Jean Calvin, the University of Geneva (UNIGE) is dedicated to teaching, research and dialogue with society. With more than 17’000 students of some 150 different nationalities, it is Switzerland’s second largest university.

Universal Rights Group

The Universal Rights Group (URG) is a small, independent think tank dedicated to analyzing and strengthening global human rights policy. It is the only such institution in Geneva and the only think tank in the world focused exclusively on human rights.

Geneva Science-Policy Interface

Geneva Science-Policy Interface (GSPI) is a platform that strives to enhance scientific engagement with global governance actors within the Geneva ecosystem.

UNEP Europe Office

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

Amnesty International

Amnesty International is a global movement of more than 7 million people who take injustice personally. Amnesty is campaigning for a world where human rights are enjoyed by all.

Geneva Academy

The Geneva Academy provides postgraduate education, conducts academic legal research and policy studies, and organizes training courses and expert meetings.

Geneva Institute for Human Rights

The Geneva Institute for Human Rights (GIHR) is a nongovernmental, nonprofit organization based in Geneva. Its key objective is to raise awareness and understanding about the importance of human rights.

Human Rights Watch

Human Rights Watch investigates and reports on abuses happening in all corners of the world and works to protect the most at risk, from vulnerable minorities and civilians in wartime, to refugees and children in need.

UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters | Aarhus Convention

The Aarhus Convention is created to empower the role of citizens and civil society organisations in environmental matters and is founded on the principles of participative democracy.

United Nations Information Portal on Multilateral Environmental Agreements

The InforMEA Initiative brings together Multilateral Environmental Agreements (MEA) to develop harmonized and interoperable information systems for the benefit of Parties and the environment community at large.

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the leading UN entity on human rights.

International Union for Conservation of Nature

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is an international organization working in the field of nature conservation and sustainable use of natural resources. It is involved in data gathering and analysis, research, field projects, advocacy, and education.

Other Locations

Past Events

Useful Resources