GNHRE Climate Litigation in the Global South Project – A Year in Review

by Melanie Murcott, Maria Antonia Tigre and Simal Efsane Erdogan

As we are reaching the end of the year, we would like to extend thanks to those involved in our Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE) Climate Litigation in the Global South Project (the Project) and offer a wrap-up of 2022. We are very proud of what we have accomplished, and hope to continue to advance Global South climate change scholarship in 2023. 

The Project, led by Dr Melanie Murcott and Dr Maria Antonia Tigre, and sponsored by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School, and Transnational Law Institute of King’s College London, engages with advancements in, and obstacles to, climate litigation in the Global South, particularly in relation to the application and implementation of human rights. The Project was born out of a broader movement to overcome structural and systemic barriers to the recognition and emergence of Global South scholarship on climate change. With two specific and dedicated rounds, the Project aims to contribute to the fast-evolving trend of climate litigation scholarship, with a focus on narratives from the Global South. 

First Round: Climate Litigation in the Global South: A Transnational Global South Perspective

The first round (2021/2022) of the Project attracted over 30 contributing authors, supported by 13 editorial team members. The team has collaborated with 9 authors from Africa (representing 5 contributions), 20 authors from Latin America (representing (representing 11 contributions), and 1 author from Asia (representing 1 contribution). Contributing authors have prepared 17 draft submissions on various aspects of climate litigation in the Global South for a special collection of the Journal of Human Rights Practice (forthcoming in 2023). Draft submissions were extensively internally reviewed by the Project team. The editorial team members are currently providing an invaluable support role as external peer reviewers of the submissions, having also given insightful input and guidance to authors at a closed workshop that took place in December 2021. 

In October 2022, several contributing authors in the first round of the Project presented their research at the “7th Annual Rule of Law and Sustainable Development Seminar” organised by Southampton Law School and Te Piringa Faculty of Law, Waikato University. At this hybrid event, our project leaders and several contributors shared Global South perspectives on climate litigation with scholars from around the globe. The seminar provided an opportunity to compare developments in climate change litigation and pose critical questions concerning the influence of litigation on the implementation of the Paris Agreement at a national and regional level, as well as the impact of the Paris Agreement on litigation to improve mitigation and adaptation. 

Second Round: The Significance of Climate Litigation for Vulnerable Groups in the Global South

Following the success of the first round of the Project, we have launched the second round. Using a vulnerability lens, we seek to highlight the significance of climate litigation for those who are particularly vulnerable to climate change, including Indigenous peoples, women, people with disabilities and children. It has been fantastic to see the growing interest in climate litigation-related scholarship and recognition of the need for Global South-focused knowledge generation and exchange. More than 60 researchers and practitioners responded to our call for interest in the second round. After a careful and detailed selection process, 21 contributing authors (representing 18 contributions) have been short-listed and invited to a closed workshop set to take place on 26 to 27 January 2023. At the workshop, contributing authors will present their proposed papers and receive feedback from our round two editorial team to help develop and shape their research. Following the workshop, we will finalise the selection of authors who will be invited to contribute to a peer-reviewed publication for the second round of the Project. 

Annotated Project Bibliography on Climate Litigation 

Among other deliverables and outputs of the Project, our project leaders Melanie Murcott, and Maria Antonia Tigre, together with research assistants Simal Efsane Erdogan, Lavinia Bhaskaruni, and Felix LeRoux have developed a substantial annotated Project bibliography. The bibliography includes up-to-date and diverse scholarship on climate change litigation and related subjects. We have ensured that the work of Global South scholars is well represented. The bibliography is a fantastic, living tool to assist in climate litigation research by scholars around the globe, and we hope you will find it useful! 

We regularly update the Project bibliography to include the most contemporary and relevant resources. To this end, we have set up a Google form as a means for anyone to suggest relevant resources, particularly by Global South scholars, for inclusion in the bibliography. We invite you to complete the form if you know of relevant resources. 

In closing…

We are grateful to our contributors, editors, research assistants, student interns, sponsors, and everyone else who has shown interest in the Project and made our scholarly journey so exciting and fruitful. Stay tuned for more climate litigation-related news in 2023!

We wish everyone a peaceful and joyful end to 2022, and a happy new year!