NEW EVENT! Webinar: Human rights strategies in climate change litigation in Africa

by Clive Vinti

On Thursday, November 26, 2020, at 16:00 hrs (SAST), 5:00 pm (Nairobi, GMT+03:00), the Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE) will host the fifth webinar in the series ‘Human rights strategies in climate change litigation’. The webinar will focus on developments in climate litigation in Africa.  We have a great list of speakers that have been directly involved in leading human rights-based climate litigation in the Africa region.

Click here to register and participate.

Countries around the world have enacted laws and adopted policies that describe national and international responses to climate change. But the current level of climate ambition, and climate action, is inadequate to meet the challenge. As a consequence, individuals, communities, non-governmental organizations, business entities, subnational governments and others have brought cases seeking to compel enforcement of those laws, replace them with stronger ones (and sometimes weaker ones), extend existing laws to address climate change or define the relationship between fundamental rights and the impacts of climate change.

To wit, in Southern Africa, there has only been one decision with climate change implications being the case of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg v Minister of Environmental Affairs [2017] 2 All SA 519 (GP), where the High Court of South Africa affirmed that the lack of an express statutory obligation to consider climate change implications before embarking on economic development activities does not imply that a climate change impact assessment must not be conducted. This decision was premised on the human right to a clean environment as provided for in section 24 of the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa. The Earthlife decision builds on the Gbemre v. Shell Petroleum Development Co., Suit No. FHC/CS/B/153/2005, of Nigeria, which according to Louis Kotzé and Anél du Plessis, was less influenced by climate change “motif” but was nevertheless, premised on a human rights centred approach and the Ugandan case of Mbabazi and Others v. The Attorney General and National Environmental Management Authority Civil Suit No. 283 of 2012.

This approach of employing human rights-based arguments in climate change litigation deserves further consideration. Most climate change litigation to date has proceeded in courts in developed countries in the northern hemisphere and in Australia and New Zealand. Litigants and courts in Africa are beginning to make use of burgeoning climate change litigation theories and know-how, particularly those that involve employing human rights strategies. It is against this backdrop, as a microcosm, that this webinar will explore a human rights-based approach to climate change litigation in the broader African space.


Nicole Loser, is the Programme Head: Pollution & Climate Change from the Centre for Environmental Rights in South Africa.

 Passy Amayo, is a Programme Officer at the Society for International Development (SID) based in Nairobi.

Gino Cocchiaro, is Director of the Kenya Hub as well as the Director of the Extractives and Infrastructure Programme at Natural Justice.

Andrew Gilder, the Director of Climate Legal responsible for drafting the Climate Change Bill of South Africa. Join us for this enriching discussion that will demonstrate the strides, albeit in their infancy, that are being taken within the African space in addressing and litigating climate change issues.

Click here to register and participate.

Astrid Milena Bernal

By Astrid Milena Bernal

Astrid Milena Bernal Rubio is a Colombian environmental lawyer and a PhD-Law student at the University of Melbourne - Climate Futures Center. Formerly LL.M student at Pennsylvania State University (concentrations in International Law and Energy and Environmental Law). She is also a lawyer from the Universidad Católica de Colombia, a Magister in Environmental Law from the Complutense University of Madrid and a Specialist in human rights and critical legal studies from the Latin American Council of Social Sciences (CLACSO) Latin American School of Public Policy- ELAP.

As part of the technical team of GFLAC (climate finance group for Latin America and the Caribbean), she supported the creation of the MRV system (monitoring, reporting and verification) for climate finance in Colombia. In addition, she has been a consultant for the WRI (World Resources Institute) and The Access Initiative (TAI), working as the National researcher for the Environmental Democracy Index (EDI). Also, she has worked as a consultant for AVINA Foundation, The Bogotá’s drainage and sewerage company (EAAB), Green Faith (NY based NGO), Brighter Green (NY based NGO) and worked as Campaign coordinator against unsustainable livestock production at the Global Forest Coalition. Astrid has worked as a lawyer and researcher on issues associated with public participation, access to information, forests, carbon markets, Just Energy transition and rights of indigenous peoples and rural communities in Colombia.

Astrid was a volunteer for the Network for Environmental Justice in Colombia and promoted the creation and growth of the climate justice division at the Environment and Society Association (AAS) of Colombia. Astrid was a senior research coordinator in a joint research project with UNICEF to contribute to the fulfilment of the SDGs (6), focusing its work on guaranteeing the rights of access to sanitation for rural, indigenous and Afro-descendant populations in Colombia. She is also part of the founders of the Colombian NGO- CAMBIUM (Climate, Environment and Research-Action Uniting Worlds). This organization aims to, directly and indirectly, influence processes carried out by civil society and decision-makers related to climate change.

Astrid also supported the work of Pivot Point and the CLARA group (Climate, Land, Ambition and Rights Alliance), promoting the understanding and participation of CSOs to ensure higher ambition of NDC (Nationally Determined Contributions) in Spanish speakers countries through the website

Astrid was a research assistant at Penn State University identifying how different kinds of transboundary river basin organizations have written and used dispute resolution mechanisms in both the bilateral agreements between the US, Mexico and Canada (NAFTA-USMCA) and the Autonomous Binational Authority of the Basin of Lake Titicaca (Bolivia, Peru).

Astrid was one of the members of the core team in the Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE), and she is part of the global network of environmental lawyers (ELAW). In her free time, she collaborates as a volunteer for The Capital Area Immigrants’ Rights Coalition- CAIR coalition.