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Environmental defenders in times of pandemic

GNHRE (The Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment)

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  • Pandemic,
  • Webinar,
  • environmental impact assessment,
  • sustainable development,
  • Environmental defenders,
  • challenges,
  • Environmental threats
Target Group
  • Students
  • English

This webinar looks at the important role that environmental defenders play in contributing to sustainable development and addressing threats to vulnerable environments and communities.

Course Description:

This class looked at the important role that environmental defenders play in contributing to sustainable development and addressing threats to vulnerable environments and communities. While environmental defenders often risk their lives and livelihoods in their efforts to protect their environments and the right of their communities and find themselves under political and corporate attack, the global COVID-19 pandemic has brought a whole new range of challenges. This class looked at the vulnerabilities and resilience of environmental defenders in extreme conditions.

Recommended Reading:

Final Regional Assessment on EHRDs and COVID-19 (link to follow)

Menton M, Milanez F, Souza JMA, Cruz FSM. The COVID-19 pandemic intensified resource conflicts and indigenous resistance in Brazil. World Development.

Karen Delfau & Pichamon Yeophantong (2020), State of Knowledge: Women and Rivers in the Mekong Region (International Rivers: Oakland, CA). Available at: [Executive Summary (English) available at:]


Georgina Lloyd is the Regional Coordinator (Asia and the Pacific) of Environmental Law and Governance for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Dr. Dylan McGarry is an environmental educational sociologist and artist from Durban, South Africa. He is a Senior researcher at the Environmental Learning Research Centre (ELRC) at the University currently known as Rhodes. As well as a co-director of the Global One Ocean Hub research network. Dylan is the co-founder of Empatheatre, and a passionate artist and story-teller. He explores practice-based research into connective aesthetics, transgressive social learning, decolonisation, queer-eco pedagogy, immersive empathy and responding to ecological apartheid in South Africa. His artwork and social praxis (which is closely related to his research) is particularly focused on empathy, and he primarily works with imagination, listening and intuition as actual sculptural materials in social settings to offer new ways to encourage personal, relational and collective agency.

Dr Mary Menton (she/her) is a Research Fellow with the University of Sussex’s Sustainability Research Programme (SSRP) and works with Not1More to support frontline environmental defenders in Brazil. Her new co-edited book, Environmental Defenders: Deadly struggles for life and territory comes out 25 June 2021.

Fran Lambrick (she / her) is a co-founder of Not1More, a campaign group working with frontline environmental defenders. She is a researcher and filmmaker (I am Chut Wutty, 2015; On the Line, 2021), interested in understanding the relationships between people and the natural world, and the root causes of violence against those who protect land and forests.

Dr Pichamon Yeophantong is an Australian Research Council Fellow and Senior Lecturer at the University of New South Wales (UNSW Canberra). She also leads the Responsible Business Lab and the Environmental Justice and Human Rights Project. In addition to her multi-year project on how to better regulate the social and environmental impacts of Chinese investment overseas, Pichamon is currently working with civil society and other institutional partners on a set of projects that seek to support the resilience of women leaders, environmental defenders, and the rule of law in the Asia-Pacific. Pichamon was awarded the 2018 Australia ‘Future Leader’ Prize by the Council for the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, and was named a ‘human rights fighter’ and finalist for the 2020 Advance Awards. Previously, she was a Global Leaders Fellow at the University of Oxford and Princeton University.

Prof Elisa Morgera (University of Strathclyde, Glasgow) specializes in international biodiversity law and its linkages with human rights, notably the rights of indigenous peoples and small-scale fishing communities, everyone’s right to health and science, and business responsibility to respect human rights. She is the director of the One Ocean Hub, a global inter-disciplinary research collaboration of research institutions in the UK, Africa, South Pacific and the Caribbean, as well as UN agencies and other international partners. The One Ocean Hub is pioneering research on human rights and the marine environment with a view to better connecting marine and social sciences, and the arts, to support fair and inclusive decision-making for a healthy ocean whereby people and planet flourish.