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.