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Climate, Land, and Environmental Defenders at the Frontlines of a Just Transition

DAY 2 | 21 March
16:45-18:00 GMT+5:45

dreamstimemaximum_115424686_aulus Rusyanto_Meandering road through palm plantation in West


People across South Asia are championing sustainable solutions to the climate crisis, despite risks.

According to recent studies, climate change is predicted to displace 62 million South Asian people by 2050, and this region will be one of the hardest hit in the world. 


Climate, land, and environmental defenders are at the forefront of protecting natural resources and climate-critical ecosystems as they act in support of their communities and others who are disproportionately impacted by environmental harm.  Business & Human Rights Resource Centre’s forthcoming research on attacks against defenders raising concerns about harmful business practice in 2022 found that nearly 75% of attacks globally were against climate, land and environmental human rights defenders and that Asia-Pacific was the second most dangerous region for defenders. In fact, India had the highest number of attacks in Asia-Pacific, and the second highest globally.


Climate, land, and environmental defenders have been advocates for sustainable practices and rights-based development for many years, despite the risks they face. Environmental defenders also play a vital and legitimate role shining a light on States and private sector actors engaged in unsustainable practices which have resulted in violations of all peoples right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

Session Description

This session will explore the vital role of climate, land, and environmental defenders in advocating for responsible business practice and a just transition to green economies.


Speakers include:

  • Arzoo Thapa, Indigenous Women's Legal Awareness Group (INWOLAG), Nepal

  • Tahal Thami, Lawyers’ Association for Human Rights of Nepalese Indigenous Peoples (LAHURNIP)

  • Syeda Rizwana, Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association

  • Roshani Giri, Law and Policy Forum for Social Justice (LAPSOJ), Nepal


The speakers will also share about the risks they, their communities and other defenders in South Asia face, and their recommendations for both States and companies to better support and protect defenders.  

Session Objectives

The key objectives of this session are to:

  • Increase understanding of the crucial role and contributions of HRDs in supporting responsible business practice and advocating for a just transition.

  • Raise awareness of the risks and harms HRDs in South Asia experience and discuss actions both States and business actors can take to support and protect defenders

  • Share information about good practices, tools and initiatives to create safe and enabling environments in which defenders can continue their rights work without fear of violence or reprisals.


The session will be moderated by Annie Khan, Asia Regional Manager at Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC).


Panelists will reflect on the following questions:

  • How are HRDs advocating for responsible business practice, specifically in the context of climate change and a just transition in South Asia?

  • What are the drivers of attacks against climate, land, and environmental defenders in South Asia?

  • How can States and business actors strengthen protection for and support climate, land, and environmental rights defenders in the region?



  • Arzoo Thapa, INWOLAG

  • Tahal Thami, LAHURNIP

  • Roshani Giri, LAPSOJ

  • Syeda Rizwana, BELA (Bangladesh)

  • Annie Khan, BHRRC

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