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Time to act on the Environment and Human Rights jointly!

Presentation from the Regional Workshop on the "Interaction between Environmental Sustainability and a Human Rights-Based Approach" May 20-21 2014. Organized by the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok, Development Cooperation Section.
by

Camilla Ottosson

on 2 June 2014

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Transcript of Time to act on the Environment and Human Rights jointly!

Second day case:
Xayaburi hydropower dam construction
The Mekong and its resourses

Mekong River supports the livelihood of millions; intensifying use and demands (by whom?) for trade-offs (for whom?)

A transboundary resource shared by countries of divergent sovereign “national interests” … National interest is not necessarily interest of all

Uneven governance/ access to justice between Mekong countries

Government ownership of MRC leads to Catch 22 in the eyes of some civil society

A complex process of decision-making around the Xayaburi Dam

Workshop objectives:

Be able to explain key international frameworks that govern and link the practice of human rights based approaches and environmental sustainability

Have identified and challenged assumptions relating to our use of the respective frameworks and the value of the inter-linkages

Have identified practical ways in which the inter-linkages between human rights based and environmental sustainability approaches can leverage our own work in enhancing development opportunities

Have explored potential partnerships and networking opportunities for further collaboration on leveraging synergy in our own work


States have duties under human rights law:

to assess environmental impacts on human rights

to make environmental information public

to facilitate participation in environmental decision-making





States have discretion to strike a balance
between environmental protection and
economic development

But the balance cannot be unreasonable, or result in unjustified, foreseeable infringements of human rights.



First day case:
Cambodian sugar plantations
Examples from Kampong Speu and Koh Kong provinces in Cambodia

• Economic land concessions to increase exports of sugar to the European Union

• No prior consultation, no environmental impact assessment, forced evictions

• Villagers empowered to engage in national, regional and international advocacy

• Thai National Human Rights Commission found violations of rights to life, self determination and development

A HRBA is about:

Empowering people –
with assertiveness, knowledge, skills
and tools, communication channels, money, legal mechanisms.

So – they can claim their rights as stipulated in national laws and conventions - rights holders.

And - putting pressure on and supporting – through capacity building – those in power, i.e. the State/Government, to respect and respond to these legitimate claims - duty bearers.

What we do and why, but also a working method, HOW we do things.


Some key lessons on available approaches

Improve access to information

Empower the communities to claim their rights

Link up with international actors like parliamentarians, customers, ASEAN HRC

”Follow the money” - engage with banks and investors or customers

Make use of national, regional and UN frameworks.

Use social media





APWLD on why gender matters
ADB/EOC on safeguards
EarthRights International on Power of law - Power of people
Accountability
"CSR is not about how you use you money, it's about how you make the money"
Perspectives on government accountability and ASEAN in relation to human rights and environmental sustainability

Experience on private sector responses and how gaps may be addressed by different actors

How can HRBA be the private sector to promote sustainable development with a focus on environmental sustainability

Regional challenges and opportunities
Challenges

Lack of democratic space for meaningful participation in certain countries

Low consumer interest in responsible business practices

National sovereignty held in high esteem

Political and economic elite are the same – low incentives for change

The Growth first, clean up later paradigm is strong


Opportunities

Improve access to information

Empower the communities to claim their rights

Some key lessons on available approaches

Link up with international actors like parliamentarians, customers, ASEAN HRC

”Follow the money” - engage with banks and investors or customers

Make use of national, regional and UN frameworks.

Social media

Thank you!
Summing up

Economic growth is achieved at a high social and environmental cost

The situation for human rights defenders working on environment and access to resources is difficult

There is potential for better linking human rights based approaches and environmental sustainability

Collaboration between partners may strengthen results

There is no silver bullet

Individual and organisational commitments are critical

We need awareness of each other’s frameworks

Keep up the good work!

© Thomas Christofoletti/Ruom
Full transcript