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


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.

Geneva Environment Network

The Geneva Environment Network (GEN) is a cooperative partnership of more than 100 environmental and sustainable development organizations based at the International Environment House in Geneva and at other locations in the surrounding region.

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Past Events

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