Open seminar | Human rights and the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity

| Wednesday 02.11.2022

| 4.30 p.m. (GMT +2)

| Join Zoom Meeting

| Passcode: 021122

| Watch live on our YouTube channel

Nicole Schabus (LLM, MBA) will present about the involvement of Indigenous Peoples in international environmental and human rights negotiations and how the rights and knowledge of Indigenous Peoples are protected under the respective frameworks.  

Nicole is a law professor at Thompson Rivers University, in Secwepemc’ulecw the territory of the Secwepemc People, in the Interior of what is now known as British Columbia, Canada. She has worked with Indigenous Peoples in the Interior and across Canada and the Americas, including by supporting them with making international submissions to international human rights bodies. She has been following international environmental negotiations for more than 20 years, as a writer for Earth Negotiations Bulletin.

Georgina Catacora-Vargas (Ph.D., MSc.) will address the relationship between biodiversity and human rights realization, illustrating how biodiversity loss, and conversely, biodiversity conservation and sustainable use, contribute to the promotion, protection, and fulfillment of rights, particularly for those in vulnerable situations.

Georgina holds a Ph.D. in Agroecology and has over ten years of experience in biodiversity, genetic resources, and biosafety of modern biotechnology policy making. Her scholar research is transdisciplinary and focuses on socioeconomic and socioecological systems related to food and agriculture, with a gender and human rights-based approach. Inspired by her work in peasant rights, she is currently a professor at an Academic Peasant Unit of the Bolivian Catholic University. Georgina is also the president of the Latin American Scientific Society of Agroecology (SOCLA).

Elsa Tsioumani (PhD, LL.M/DEA) will facilitate the open seminar providing introductory remarks.
Elsa is a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Fellow at the School of International Studies in the University of Trento in Italy. She is an international environmental lawyer with an extensive publication record on biodiversity governance, human rights, and emerging technologies. She has been following intergovernmental negotiations on the environment for more than 20 years, as a writer for Earth Negotiations Bulletin, and collaborates with the project at TIESS.


4.20- 4.30


4.30- 4.40

Welcome – Introductory remarks

Elsa Tsioumani, Facilitator – Transdisciplinary Institute for Environmental and Social Studies – TIESS

4.40- 5.00

Protection of Indigenous Peoples rights and knowledge in international environmental and human rights negotiations.

Nicole Schabus

5.00- 5.20

Biodiversity conservation and sustainable use. Protection, promotion, and fulfillment of rights, particularly for those in vulnerable situations.

Georgina Catacora-Vargas

5.20- 5.40


5.40- 6.00

Closing remarks

The seminar will be held in a hybrid format in-person and online (via Zoom). A limited number of invitations will be issued for in-person participants, following COVID-19-related restrictions.
Online participation requires no prior registration. The seminar will be held in English. A report including key messages as well as all project’s deliverables will be translated in 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 introductory seminar under the theme “The fundamental right to a healthy and clean environment”, this second seminar will try to link the human rights framework with the biodiversity framework in order to ensure that biodiversity considerations will become more central in future development planning.

Human rights and the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (backround)

Biological diversity refers to all living organisms and the interactions among them. The term not only covers species diversity, but also genetic and ecosystem diversity. It thus refers to the variety of different species, including plants, animals, fungi and micro-organisms; the variety of genes within all these species; and their different habitats.

Biodiversity, the outcome of billions of years of evolution, is shaped by natural processes and interactions between humans and the environment. It is the source of the essential resources and ecosystem services that sustain human life, including food production, purification of air and water, and climate stabilization. Biodiversity directly supports human activities, such as agriculture, forestry, fisheries, and tourism. It thus underpins human well-being and livelihoods, and the full enjoyment of an extensive range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and culture.

The rapid loss of biodiversity in our era, estimated to be 100 to 1000 times higher than the background species extinction rate, has important implications for human well-being and the realization of those rights. A human rights perspective allows the demonstration of the urgent need to safeguard biodiversity and contribute towards ensuring policy coherence.

The current Biodiversity Strategy of the European Union explicitly refers in its future vision (by 2050) to protection, restoration and valuation of biodiversity’s intrinsic value, as well as to its essential contribution to human well-being. Linking the human rights framework with the biodiversity framework will provide mutual benefits, ensuring foremostly that biodiversity considerations will become more central in future development planning. The outcomes of this section of the project will feed in the existing policy dialogue, informing relevant decision-making regarding, inter alia, the future targets and visions of the European Union’s biodiversity strategies.


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