09 Mar 2021

Venue: Online | Webex

As a follow-up to the Human Rights Council Resolution 40/11 on the protection of the rights of persons engaged in the defense of the environment, adopted in 2019, the Geneva Road Map 40/11 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. This event is co-organized by the University of Geneva and Earthjustice, within the framewok of the Geneva Environment Network and under the sponsorship of Norway, in parallel to the 46th session of the Human Rights Council to draw what this Roadmap for the protection of environmental defenders should be in 2021 and at the same time to prepare taking stock in 2022 of their realization, their impact and of the so urgently needed reversal of the current worrying trend.

Geneva Roadmap 40/11

Human Right 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 of the resolution, 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.

Milestones and Opportunities in 2021

2020 was to be an exceptional year for the environment, given the important conferences that were to be held on the subject. In the end, it will have been the year of the coronavirus (Sars-Cov-2). However, this turnaround confirms, if need be, the crucial role of environmental issues. If the exact cause of this pandemic remains to be clarified, it is part of the worrying emergence for several decades of new pandemics resulting from zoonoses, showing the consequences of massive degradation of the natural environment of our planet. Yet, while the protection and restoration of this environment is clearly becoming a priority, intimidations, attacks and violations of the fundamental rights of those who commit themselves to it continue to increase.

Global actors strive to make up for lost time and make 2021 the year of the environment. This raises important hopes. But for this year to be so, it must also be the year of the protection for the people who are working towards its protection in the first place.

Several events on the international scene offer critical opportunities in 2021, as potential milestones in the realization of this Roadmap. These include both global and regional processes in both the environmental and human rights spheres.

A significant number of environmental events will take place in 2021. In addition to their contribution to safeguarding the planet’s environment, all of them will have the potential to incorporate measures addressing needs and rights of environmental human rights defenders.



Regional Steps in 2021

  • The Aarhus Convention: adoption of a Rapid Response Mechanism for EHRD ?
  • The Escazu Convention: what will the entry into force change in 2021 for EHRD ?

Environmental International Organizations Milestones in 2021

  • IUCN World Conservation Congress | September 2021- Marseille, France
  • UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP15) | 2021 – Kumming, China
  • UN Climate Change Conference (UNFCCC COP26) | November 2021 – Glasgow, UK





Permanent Representative of the Republic of Fiji to the United Nations in Geneva, President of the Human Rights Council

David BOYD

UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment (video message)


Deputy Permanent Representative, Norway


Programme Officer, Law Division, UNEP


Legal Focal Point for EECCA countries, European ECO Forum | Senior Policy Expert, Resource & Analysis Center Society and Environment


Chair of the Aarhus Convention, Georgia


Director, Environmental Democracy Practice, WRI


Senior Expert Environmental Justice, IUCN Netherlands

Sébastien DUYCK

Senior Attorney, Climate & Energy Program, Center for International Environmental Law


Human Rights Lawyer, Mexican Center for Environmental Law | Defending Land and Environmental Defenders Coalition


Thematic Coordination Manager, International Land Coalition


Executive Director, International Service for Human Rights


Executive Director, Universal Rights Group


Senior lecturer and researcher, Environmental Governance and Territorial Development, University of Geneva


This event will take place on Webex and Facebook live. Kindly register directly on the Webex platform.


In addition to the live WebEx and Facebook transmissions, the video be available on this webpage.