At risk: Understanding Contemporary Environmental Civil Society Challenges

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Published on
July 9, 2019

Environmental defenders, including civil society organizations as well as individual advocates, have long played a key role in shaping how we understand environmental problems and craft solutions. Yet, the ways and conditions under which these actors work have changed rapidly over the last decade.

Today, there is growing public attention to the evolving nature of the field and a call for better protection of environmental defenders in particular. While some cases reach global media, other substantive processes and trends remain largely invisible - even if their effects are significant for environmental civil society action.

A project carried out by the University of Geneva’s Institute for Environmental Governance and Territorial Development seeks precisely to address knowledge gaps related to threats to environmental defenders as a way to better inform policies in this space.

This project, being at the intersection of the environment and human rights, is supported by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the Boninchi Foundation and the GSPI.The GSPI’s support to this project focuses on activities to engage policy actors in the International Geneva ecosystem, both as input to the research and as an engagement strategy to ensure that the process leads to impactful and evidence-based policies. Core research is being undertaken in 2019 and a set of science-policy dialogues are planned in 2020, targeted around milestone political events, including the UN Human Rights Council.

For more information, please contact Nicolas Seidler at


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