About

The Summer/Winter School will take place entirely online and is open and free to anyone who wants to attend. Please see our programme here for our line-up of lectures and panels and for links for registration. Certificates of attendance will be available on request to gnhre.unep.summerwinterschool@gmail.com.

The Global Network for Human Rights and the Environment (GNHRE) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will host their second annual School on Environmental and Human Rights from 20-28 June 2022. This year the Summer/Winter School will focus on the theme Water – from oceans to taps. From inner-city infrastructure to hydro-dams, from spiritual waterways to transnational rivers, from exclusive economic zones to the depths of the oceans, the whole interconnected water cycle and the lives it supports are increasingly under threat.

In February 2021, the Magpie River in Canada was recognized as a legal person. Later in 2021, devastating floods damaged, destroyed and displaced communities in Brazil, Turkey, the Philippines, Germany, Australia, and Malaysia among others. In this same past year, the world continued to face unprecedented levels of drought, with dire drought conditions affecting the US, Chile, Madagascar, Brazil, and South Africa among others. Also in 2021, US President Biden launched an infrastructure plan that included US$80 billion in critical water investments, Chilean lawmakers started a process to reform the almost entirely privatized water rights system, while the UAE began work on three new desalination plants to meet demands for potable water that far outstrip fresh water supplies in the area. In the past year, courts have been called on to adjudicate disputes about state versus private rights to groundwater (US), the increasing costs of potable water and sanitation services (South Africa), the injustice of intermittent water supply to rural communities (India), First Nation’s rights to clean water (Canada) among many other matters. 2021 saw another year of countries being devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated in areas where limited access to clean water facilitates viral spread. At the same time, the pandemic resulted in an additional 26 000 tons of plastic waste entering the oceans. The IPCC’s 2021 6th Assessment report stated that continued sea level rise was projected to be “irreversible over hundreds to thousands of years.” 2021 was also the year the World Bank released its Ebb and Flow report, highlighting the link between water crisis and rising levels of migration.

Water is intimately connected to every aspect of our lives, to every part of the environment and to all of our human rights. However, research into water is often seen as a highly specialized area. Our goal for the Summer/Winter School is not only to engage with cutting edge work in the field, but also for environmental & human rights scholars, practitioners and activists who have not worked on water, to begin to think about the water system in relation to their work.

The 2022 Summer/Winter School is organized by Angela Kariuki and Dina Lupin, with assistance and support from our thematic advisor, Professor Elisa Morgera, and hosted in partnership with Southampton School of Law.

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