On June 1st 2022 at the Nobis Hotel in Stockholm, the Normandy Chair for Peace (NCP) organized a consultation of experts in international law and public policy, on the eve of the launch of Stockholm+50 organized by the United Nations. The event, entitled “Making Peace with Nature: a consultation on fulfilling the promise of Environmental Law”, is a collaboration between the UN University for Peace, the Normandy Chair for Peace and the International Council on Environmental Law.
This event, bringing together a large number of influential personalities working on themes related to peace and the environment, was a great opportunity for enriching discussions on the need to develop legal and political strategies for peace with nature. Indeed, “Humanity is at war with nature” warned UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in 2020, referring to how our consumption and production systems are destroying the environment. The question is therefore obvious: how to put an end to the destruction of the environment and ensure the well-being of individuals and ecosystems? As such, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has created a first synthesis report that shows how climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution can be addressed jointly under the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The purpose of the report is to translate the current state of scientific knowledge into a clear and useful message. “Making peace with nature” paves the way for a shift towards circular economies and more equitable societies that tackle climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
The conference began with a few introductory words from Emilie GAILLARD, General Coordinator of the Normandy Chair for Peace, Prof. Juan-Carlos SAINZ-BORGO, Dean of the University for Peace, and Prof. Jason CZARNEZKI from the Haub School of Law at Pace University.
Christina VOIGT, President of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, spoke on the topic of the law’s transformative power, followed by Prof. Nicholas ROBINSON, Member of the International Council on Environmental Law and the NCP, who recalled the progress made by international environmental law in the protection of human rights and nature, especially since the 1972 Stockholm Conference.
The guests in the room then welcomed Sherri GOODMAN, researcher at the Polar Institute and Environmental Change & Security Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center and strategist at the Center for Climate & Security. On this occasion, she presented to the panel the “World Climate and Security Report 2021” published by the International Military Council on Climate and Security.
Subsequently, Alyn WARE, member of the NCP, Global Coordinator of the PNND and Team Leader for the Nexus Climate – Nuclear Disarmament Programme (New Zealand/Czech Republic) then presented the ongoing project led by both the NCP and the World’s Youth for Climate Justice (WYCJ) movement to ask the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the responsibility of States in the face of climate change. Sophie PECQUEUR, a student at Sciences Po Rennes, but also intern for the NCP and member of the WYCJ movement, supported Alyn Ware’s comments and stressed the importance of such a procedure for advancing international environmental law.
Marie G. JACOBSSON, Principal Legal Advisor on International Law at the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, reported the evolution of international environmental law from 1972 to 2022.
Helen OBGREGON GIESEKEN, member of the International Committee of the Red Cross, shared the work and expertise of the Red Cross on the need to integrate environmental protection into military strategies in contexts of armed conflicts, stressing that much still has to be done in this area.
It was on the goal of reaching peace, security and development within the framework of the SDGs that Prof. Narinder KAKAR, Permanent Observer to the UN for the University of Peace (UPEACE) expressed himself, showing the progress, or lack of progress, in implementing of United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Finally, to conclude this session, two UNEP members, Donald KANIARU, ICEL’s representative to UNEP, and Patricia KAMERI-MBOTE, Director of UNEP’s Law Division, stressed the need for a greater political and legal strategy for the protection of peace and the environment, going beyond political declarations while strengthening cooperation more than competition.