Meeting | Human Rights and the Environment: Challenges in practice | Environmental Defenders (Skouries, Volos, Agrafa)

Conference will take place 6-7 October 2023, in Thessaloniki, Greece.

It will foucs on enviromental defenders in Skouries, Volos and Agrafa.


Friday 6 October 2023 (17.00-21.00)


1st session – Human rights and the environment. From theory to practice.

Presenting project’s main points and introducing key concepts of environmental defenders.
Asterios Tsiumanis (ΤIESS)

2nd session – Skouries (Giorgos Kalyvas)
Facilitator: Vassia Thomaidou

Screening documentary “Golden Forest” on Giorgos Kalyvas (22’)
Director: Stratis Viyatzis (The caravan project)

Giorgos Velegrakis (National and Kapodistrian University of Athens)
Social, economic and environmental dimensions and impacts of mining in NE Halkidiki

Alexandra Karina (Megali Panagia Struggle Committee)
Struggle for land and freedom. Who are we?

Stavroula Poulimeni (Alterthess)
SLAPP, environmental movements and the case of Alterthess.


Saturday 7 October (09.30-14.00)


3rd session – Volos (Vassilios Maggos)
Facilitator: Maria Alembaki

Markos Vaxevanopoulos (Universtiy of Thessaly)
The case of garbage burning in Volos.

(Coordination of Volos Associations Against Garbage Burning)
The movement against garbage burning.

Yiannis Maggos
Repression and police violence. The case of Vassilis Maggos



4th session – Agrafa | Western Macedonia
Facilitator: Elsa Tsiumani

Sophia Zygogianni (Athens Initiative for the protection of Agrafa, Struggle Committee of the People of Agrafa)
The struggle for the protection of Agrafa (2018-2023)

Nikos Giannakis (biologist)
Environmental movements in Western Macedonia


5th session – The right to the environment

13.30 – 14.00
Round table – closing remarks and the project’s final results and conclusions.

The meeting will be held in a hybrid format in-person (TIESS’ seminar hall) and online (via Zoom).
Online participation requires no prior registration. The meeting will be held in Greek. A policy paper including key messages as well as all project’s deliverables will be published both in English and Greek in the project’s website.


The Transdisciplinary Institute for Environmental and Social Studies (TIESS), in collaboration with a group of academic researchers, was successful to its application for a Jean Monnet grant to analyze and study environmental rights under the title “Human rights and the environment in the EU: Towards an inclusive debate”. The three-year project addresses various aspects of the concept of environmental rights, and aims to add to the ongoing discussion, following the recognition of the “right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a human right that is important for the enjoyment of human rights” (UN Human Rights Council Resolution 48/13).
The project is divided in five thematic areas, which will be addressed in separate seminars. Following the previous four seminars, this fifth meeting will try to link human rights and climate change in order to offer additional focus on the interrelationship between environmental degradation and the fulfillment of human rights.

Environmental defenders (backround)

This section will address specific challenges at the intersection of human rights and environmental protection. These include topics attracting increasing attention, such as environmental rights defenders, as well as cases of potential implementation of human rights approaches to local development decisions.

A “human rights defender” is a term used to describe people who, individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights. An “environmental rights defender” or “environmental defender” is a person who is defending environmental rights, when the exercise of those rights is being threatened. A growing body of literature indicates that violations of environmental rights, although significantly differing by region, have been increasing worldwide due to greater competition for given natural resources, inadequacy or limited implementation of environmental laws, and corruption. Recent work examines, among others, challenges faced by environmental defenders, especially women, violations by non-state actors, and the impact of relevant legislation. A report from 2016 on global killings of land and environmental defenders estimates that “nearly four people are murdered every week protecting their land and the natural world from industries like mining, logging and agribusiness”.

Case studies that attract national interest will also be included in the study. Implementation of human rights approaches to a healthy environment will be analyzed vis-à-vis the management decisions associated with the case of mining activities in Skouries, Halkidiki, Greece. Following years of tension, including judicial persecutions, the proposal’s ambition is to frame the ongoing discussion on a human rights framework, informing future relevant decision making.

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