AuthorElisa Morgera
Biodiversity as a Human Right and its implications for the EU’s External Action
2 Introduction
This study aims to pro vide a n in-depth and accessible analysis on biodiversity as a human right to inform
the European Parliament’s work on how the European Union’s external action can best contribute at an
inter natio nal level, a s well as t hroug h bilatera l and unila teral external relations and internal instruments
with extra terr itorial a pplicat ion to a holistic and human rights-based appr oach aimed at stopping
biodiv ersit y loss and de grad ation . The ro le of b iodiver sity as a human right in t he con text of EU
cont ribut ions to the fight against climate change through such an approach will also be featured.
The s tudy star ts with a brief ove rview of em pirical dat a regarding t he impact s of biod iversity lo ss on human
rights, highlighting data gaps and limitations in currently available sources. The study will assess the status
and co nten t of e xisting inter national o bligat ions on bio diversit y and hu man rig hts. It will als o con sider the
levels of d etail a nd sig nifican ce pro vided by inte rnatio nal guidan ce on im plement ation not just fo r S tates,
but also business and conservation organisations. Attention will focus equally on: procedural and
subst antive rights; the rights of people generally and specifica lly on the rights of groups at heightened risk
(par ticular ly children , women, indigeno us peop les and local commu nities) ; as well as justicia bility and
everyday accountability (Part I). In this part, it will be explained that the term ‘biodiversity as a human right’
is us ed as sho rthand fo r existing intern ational oblig ations at the nexus of inter national b iodiversit y law and
international human rights law (in other words, to discuss what international law currently says on the
protection of biodiv ersit y-dependent human rights).
The study will then asses s existin g initiativ es’ (po tential) legal and political impact at international and
regio nal lev els fo r add ress ing bio diversity and h uman r ights in a mut ually suppor tive man ner, including
but not limited to the pos t-2020 biodiver sity fra mework and Un ited Nat ion s (UN ) negotiations towards a
new int erna tion al inst rument on m arine bio diver sity of ar eas bey ond nat ional jur isdiction . This will le ad to
the id entifica tion of opp ort unities fo r th e EU an d its Member States t o play a leade rsh ip role in a va riety of
mult ilatera l fora. This part will in clude a short reflection on t he benefits of suppor ting the in ter national
recognition for the human right to a healthy environment as including healthy biodiversity and
ecos yst ems, in o rder to enhance the v isibility, cla rity an d justicia bility o f biodiv ers ity a s a hum an r igh t. That
said , it sh ould be emphas ised tha t inter national, lega lly binding obligatio ns on bio divers ity-depe ndent
human rights already exist independently of the international recognition of the human right to a healthy
environment. (Par t II). Add itionally, t he study will as sess th e EU’s (un ilateral an d bilateral) external action
tools that h ave addressed or could address biodiversity as a human right in the context of development,
trade and other areas of international cooperation. This will lead to the ident ificatio n of area s for
improvement and innovation in EU agreements, external funding, impact assessments and legislation with
extraterritorial implications (Part III). Parts II and III, therefore, distil recommendations for the EU and the
European Parliament on how to develop a holistic and human rights-based approach to the conservation
and sus tainable use of biodiversity in external action. All recommendations will then be s ummarised in the
study’s Conclusions.

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