Executive summary

AuthorElisa Morgera
Biodiversity as a Human Right and its implications for the EU’s External Action
1 Executive summary
Current negative trends in biodiversity and ecosystems will undermine progress towards 80 % of the
asses sed targets for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to pov er ty , hu ng er, hea lt h, water ,
cities, climate, oceans and land;
Everyo ne’s ability to enjoy human rights to life, health, food and water depends on healthy ecosystems
and their ben efits to people; this concerns particularly th e rights of ch ildren, women , i nd ige nou s peop les
and lo cal com mun ities;
Stat es’ international o bligations o n biodive rsity and hu man rig hts are bo th procedur al and su bstantive;
there ar e specific obligations for vulnerable groups. All these obligations extend to th e context of inter-
State cooperation;
The Con vention on Biological Diversit y (CBD) has been relied upon most freq uently by international
human rights bodies with respect to indigenous people’s rights in the context of extractives, agriculture,
or conservation;
The CBD Pa rties also produced guidance on what States, business enterprises and others need to do
regarding the human right to health, women’s rights, as well as integrating human rights and biodiversity
cons iderations into climate cha nge ada ptation and m itigation. So far, little progress has been made
under the CBD on the rights of the child and on procedural rights, notably access to justice;
Whils t the CB D articles ar e legally binding, t here is significant r oom for Sta tes’ dis cretion to decide on
implementation measures; interpreting the CBD in a mutually supportive manner with international
hum an rig hts law clarif ies the lim its to S tates’ discr etion under t he CBD, th ereby enhancing jus ticiability;
Guidelines adopted under the CBD provide interpretative guidance on binding ob ligations contained
within the CB D. In ad dition , CBD de cisions ca n be re cognised as r elevant interpre tative guidance under
international human rights treaties, so international human rights bodies may play a role in assessing
compliance with the CBD a nd it s gu ida nce ;
For EU Me mber Stat es, biodiv ersity as a human rig ht is the o bject of lega lly bind ing int ernational
obliga tions, giv en the participation of all EU Memb er States in th e CBD and co re international human
rights treaties. Policy coherence in external action is a lso a n EU tr eaty oblig ation. Equally , biodiversity as
a human right has the potential to support well-established EU priorities related to the p art nership
approach with other countries, mainstreaming of climate change and respect for human rights in
different policy areas, effective and coher ent aid delivery togeth er with support for a rule-based
internat ional order and effective multilateralism.
The EU has a great opportunity to play a global leadership role on biodiversity as a human r ight at the
mult ilateral lev el, as well as bilat erally a nd unilaterally. This can be done both through imp lementation
of existing instruments, the development of new ones and a more strategic approach to the interactions
of different tools that the EU can br ing to be ar in its external re lations.
The recommendations for the EU and the European Parliament arising from this study range from the
funding of research and learning approaches on biodiversity as a human right, to the EU position in
ongoing international negotiations (n otably in 2020/2021, but also beyond) and the use of EU bilateral
trade ag reements, the use of impact assessments for extern al relations instruments and other
inst ruments with extrat erritorial implicat ions, mor e extensive u se of good pr actices ide ntified in EU
bilateral and un ilateral measures, as well as the prioritisation and safeguarding of external funding.

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT