October 22, 2014
Last month, Goldman Prize Program Officer Ryan Mack traveled to Yale University to attend the UN Conference on Human Rights and the Environment. The two day conference brought together more than 100 scholars and policy experts from over 40 different countries.
Conference sessions were also attended by John Knox, the UN Independent Expert on Human Rights and the Environment and Ramin Pejan, chief consultant on human rights and environment for the UN Independent Expert.
Mack attended several sessions exploring the nexus between human rights and the environment, including sessions on Constitutional Environmental Rights; Human Rights and Environmental Justice; Human Rights, Environment, and Corporate Responsibility, and more.
In addition to attending conference sessions, Mack had the opportunity to engage with issue experts on strategies to defend environmental activists. With crimes against activists on the rise, the Goldman Prize is interested in exploring new ways we can expand our support for environmental defenders.
One of the major takeaways from the conference that Mack commented on was the UN’s decision to start using the term “environmental human rights defenders” rather than just “environmental defenders,” when describing environmental and human rights activists.
“This switch is terminology has been used to reflect that the environment is a human right and that there is a close nexus between human rights and the environment globally,” said Mack.