Lab 3 - The law as an agent of nature: Access to environmental justice and protection
9 November 2021, 9.00-11.00 - Room 6 – Palais de l’Europe
Sponsored by Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE)
It is recognised that a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is an essential prerequisite for the safeguarding of fundamental human rights, such as the right to life. Human rights, for their part, often serve as a means of taking legal action to protect the environment and people’s livelihoods in courts.
Yet, while the number of environmental disputes has increased over the years, a lack of both domestic and international legal instruments that would directly and explicitly address a wider range of environmental issues is becoming evident. What legal mechanisms should be in place to preserve the environment more effectively? Could the modern legal system integrate intergenerational justice and the rights of nature into such mechanisms? How do we achieve equal access to environmental justice for all?
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PachaGaïa is an association with objective to gather information on the damage done to nature, to list it in order to allow access to legal and scientific data, and finally to make this information freely and openly available. The access to data will enable individuals to take legal action, fight environmental racism, disseminate the concept of ecological damage and unite as many people as possible in the fight against attacks on nature. The added value of the project is the creation of an interactive cartography bringing together environmental, legal and health information. The next step is to set up a proof of concept on the French island of “La Réunion”.
Co-founder and co-president, PachaGaïa
After completing masters degrees in sustainable development, she continued to be engaged professionally and personally in causes that support the protection of the environment. So, she was able to work both in the private sector and the NGOs, benefiting from national and international experiences. She is convinced of the benefits of innovative projects and their positive impacts at the local level but also at the national and European levels. Today, she is continuing my commitment to the association PachaGaïa in which she is one of the co-founders and co-president.
Volunteer and technical advisor, PachaGaïa
Democratising the law for environmental justice in Kenya
The initiative supports a group of community paralegals to train community members affected by industrial expansion and massive infrastructure developments to document evidence of legal violations, write formal complaints (citing relevant national and international laws) and file them with the relevant administrative institutions. These communities of fishers, farmers and pastoralists and completely dependent on their environments for their livelihoods, culture and often health needs. Thus, the impacts caused by these projects are often extremely severe. The initiative assists these communities stop the ongoing impacts caused by project violations and offers them increased resilience to the pressures caused by climate change and biodiversity loss.The program is designed to utilise systems that were set up in many African countries post-independence as part of their democratisation process yet are often completely underutilised by the citizenry. To program is designed so that each community member receiving training is able to carry on these actions themselves and also share the lessons learnt with other community members. The program is currently being trialled in Kenya with 4 community-based organizations. Each are affected by various projects, including mining and a large port development. The aim of the program is not only to legally empower local communities, who rarely have knowledge of laws that protect their environments and livelihoods, but to also apply pressure to the democratic systems of governance in Kenya mandated to protect the environment, and therein communities dependent upon them, but are all too often susceptible to capture by elites and private enterprise.
Director of Programmes and Development, Natural Justice
Gino Cocchiaro is the Director of Programmes and Development. He has worked with Natural Justice since 2010, most recently as the Director of the Kenya Hub as well as the Director of the Extractives and Infrastructure Programme at Natural Justice. He is legally trained and has supported communities to participate in environmental decision-making processes in Southern Africa and Kenya. He was the lead lawyer from Natural Justice against the Lamu coal plant and has worked closely with the communities of Lamu since 2010.
Notre Affaire à Tous, France
NOTRE AFFAIRE À TOUS is an association formed in the summer of 2015. It is the offspring of the End Ecocide on Earth movement, which seeks to have the most serious environmental crimes recognised at the international criminal level. Anchored in the fight for the preservation of nature, Our Common Cause works to establish climate justice through legal tools. We are fighting on several fronts: With the case of the century, a lawsuit against the state for climate inaction in partnership with the Fondation Nicolat Hulot, Greenpeace and Oxfam. With the legal action against Total and the report "Total, the strategy of climate chaos" released recently. With the conceptualisation and advocacy work to recognise the rights of nature. With the organisation of conferences and interventions for students and teenagers on the subject of climate justice. And many other initiatives ...
Volunteer, Notre Affaire à tous
Local group coordinator, Notre affaire à Tous
As a student in a Master's degree in environmental law at the University of Strasbourg, I chose to use law as a tool to defend the cause that is dearest to me: climate justice, social justice and protection of all living things. Involved in several environmental associations and movements since the beginning of my studies, it is quite logical that I joined the association Notre Affaire à Tous when I arrived in Strasbourg: an association that advocates the law as a tool for the establishment of the concept of climate justice, which works for the institution of a true environmental and nature law. Today I am the coordinator of the local group of Notre Affaire à Tous in Strasbourg.
Discussants are invited to take part in the Labs in order to share their experience with the presented democratic initiatives and try to bring broader perspectives to the following discussions.
Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights of the PACE (NR)
Ziya Altunyaldiz (Turkey, NR) is a member of the Turkish Parliament and the Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). He is Rapporteur on “Addressing issues of criminal and civil liability in the context of climate change”. He chaired the Committee on Industry, Trade, Energy, Natural Resources Information and Technology of the Turkish Parliament.
Luís LEITE RAMOS
Chairperson of the Committee on Social Affairs, Health and Sustainable Development of the PACE (EPP/CD)
Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe-PACE (UEL)
George Katrougalos, former Foreign Minister of Greece, is Professor of Public Law at Democritus University of Thrace, currently Member of the Hellenic Parliament for SYRIZA party. He is, since 2019, Vice Chair of the Group of the United European Left at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) and since 2021 President of the Sub-committee on the Middle East and the Arab World of PACE. He was Alternate Minister of Interior and Administrative Reconstruction (January-July 2015), has served as Minister of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity (September 2015-November 2016), as Alternate Minister for Foreign Affairs responsible for European Affairs and International Economic Relations (November 2016 - February 2019) and as Minister of Foreign Affairs (February 2019-July 2019). Since he was a student he participated in youth movements and democratic struggles. He was secretary of the Board of Law Students Association of Athens and President of the Association of Greek Students in Paris. During 2000 – 2003 he was advisor to the Greek Permanent Mission to the United Nations for the works of the 3rd Committee of the UN General Assembly and a member of the committee of experts advising the Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the drafting of the European Constitution. Additionally, he has taught at several Universities in Europe, the USA and India and has been a visiting scholar at the Law School of New York University (2007 and 2012), as Emile Noel Fellow and Senior Emile Noel Fellow, respectively, and at Roskilde University (1994-1995), as a fellow of the Danish Academy of Science. George Katrougalos is a member of the board of KETHEA (Therapy Center for Dependent Individuals), of UNICEF Greece, of the Association of Greek Experts on Constitutional Law and founding member of the Audit Committee of Public Debt. He has published extensively in Greek, American and European legal reviews.
Master's student in international relations, Sciences PO, Strasbourg, France
Paula ENRÍQUEZ LAYOS
Project Developer Assistant, ALDA
- Labs 2021
- Lab 1 - More heads are better than one: Citizens’ Assemblies on climate
- Lab 2 - Save the planet, make a living: Green entrepreneurship
- Lab 3 - The law as an agent of nature: Access to environmental justice and protection
- Lab 4 - Sustainable cities: When the problem becomes part of the solution
- Lab 5 - Act Local, inspire global: Local initiatives making change
- Lab 6 - Joining forces: Public-private collaborations for the environment
- Lab 7 - Better together: Engaging communities for nature conservation and protection
- Lab 8 - Scarcity and sources of conflict: Managing natural resources to prevent conflict
- Lab 9 - Knowledge is power: Environmental education and training
- Lab 10 - Women's power to act for the climate transition