Members convene virtually to strategize on Climate Justice, ESCR & Just and Equitable Recovery

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, September 30, 2020

From 1-3 September 2020, ESCR-Net’s Networkwide Project on Environment & ESCR and Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente (AIDA) co-hosted a strategy meeting amongst members of ESCR-Net, entitled Climate Justice, ESCR & a Just and Equitable Recovery (in the context of COVID-19).

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, given the scale of the crisis and the inevitable economic impacts that await us, many members have highlighted the need to advocate for and organize towards a just and equitable recovery, grounded in human rights and climate justice, guided by a feminist intersectional approach, centering resisting communities and movements, and informed by our collective experience through the crisis. This led to the thematic focus of the strategy meeting.

The planning process for the entire meeting was actively guided by the ESCR-Net Environment and ESCR Project Advisory Group, including: Al-Haq, Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD), Asia Indigenous Peoples’ Pact (AIPP), Comité Ambiental en Defensa de la Vida, Dejusticia, FIAN International, Global Initiative for ESCR (GI-ESCR), Green Advocates, Human Rights Law Network (HRLN), International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific (IWRAW-AP), Kairos Center for Religions, Rights and Social Justice, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP), Pakistan Fisherfolk Forum (PFF), World Forum of Fisher Peoples (WFFP) and Layla Hughes, with multiple advisory group members also leading on coordinating regional discussions which were a core part of the meeting. AIDA, the co-host of the meeting, and central to every aspect of the planning and execution, is also an advisory group member.

Over three dozen members from across Latin America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East,  Europe and North America, convened virtually  to deepen cross-regional solidarity, learn from each other, and deepen shared analysis and strategic approaches, prioritizing potential areas for collective action where the joint efforts of members can add value to existing advocacy for systemic change. Prioritizing a focused set of discussions, the Advisory Group  invited fellow members based on agreed criteria, including our core principles of social movement centrality and gender and regional balance, as well as experience advocating on the key themes, level of engagement in collective work, cross-sectoral knowledge, and integration of a feminist intersectional analysis. Members engaged in different ESCR-Net Working Groups were also invited given the transversal nature of work on climate change and human rights.

The meeting itself was preceded by a social movement pre-gathering on 19 August, which provided a space for movement leaders to learn about each other’s analysis and demands related to the climate crisis and to shape input into the September meeting.

The September meeting was convened over three days of three-hour sessions each with simultaneous interpretation in English, Spanish and Arabic. The first day was devoted to a cross-regional session exploring common principles and initial shared demands that members are articulating in terms of a just and equitable recovery grounded in climate justice and human rights, building shared definitions of key concepts and setting the stage for strategic planning. The second day was divided into five regional discussions, which focused on how key issues are manifesting at the regional level at the intersection of climate justice, ESCR & just and equitable recovery, regional openings for advocacy, and how to better connect struggles within regions, across regions and globally. The third day involved a report back from regional discussions, and proposals by members on priority areas for collective action. In preparing the proposals, members considered the systemic changes we are aiming for, assessed which actors or spaces we need to engage with, and evaluated which strategies will be most effective.

While the thematic focus of the meeting was a just and equitable recovery (as relates to COVID-19), members focused more on the urgent need to advance a just and equitable transition. Members emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed and intensified grave systemic injustices all over the world, and shown us how our governments are not well positioned to take on a crisis of this scale, let alone multiple and compounding crises, without significant systemic restructuring. Members underlined that this is the moment to urgently advance long-needed systemic transformations, including a just and equitable transition to a fossil fuel free future in which human and environmental rights are a reality for all.  Inputs from the strategy meeting will inform the action planning of the Networkwide Project on Environment and ESCR going forward and the design of collective projects for the next two years.

Areas prioritized by Members in the context of a Just and Equitable Transition:

  1. Articulate a shared vision and amplify related alternatives
  2. Strengthen intersectional movement building
  3. Reinforce corporate accountability and confront corporate capture
  4. Strengthen normative development and implementation of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights (ESCER), as well as support climate and climate impacting human rights litigation, as essential steps to confront intersecting crises
  5. Ensure that climate solutions do not violate human rights

In delivering closing remarks for the meeting, Astrid Puentes Riaño, Co-Executive Director of AIDA, which co-hosted the meeting, said, “…our goal is to reinvent the world. And I am sure that we can do it. We have the people, the knowledge and the capacity to do this, and the network has a leading role... I want to insist on Debbie’s words, ‘we already have the ingredients, so let us start cooking.’..The challenge is not easy, and that is why we are here. This is not an effort we can do alone. We need to work collectively…I know it is difficult with all the attacks we are suffering. It has been very painful to lose so many people. But I have confidence in all of us…We are here united, to make into reality, all the discussions we had in these last days.”

Working Group(s):