The Escazú Agreement, Human Rights and Healthy Ecosystems

This dialogue series seeks to catalyze action to implement the Escazú Agreement in synergy with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and biodiversity-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements.



Course type: Dialogue series
Languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese
Dates: 18, 19, 27 October 2021 at 10 AM ET / 4 PM CET
Sessions: 3 sessions
Commitment: 60-90 min per session
 Partners: Environmental Governance Programme, UNDP's Regional Hub for Latin America, Stockholm University, Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions, UN Environment Programme, Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights)

Meet the experts

In partnership with the Nordic Institute of Latin American Studies at the Stockholm University and UNDP in Latin America and the Caribbean, the Environmental Governance Programme convened a dialogue series on the implementation of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement).This dialogue series was co-sponsored by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights), and Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI), as part of a broader partnership on the UN General Secretary Global Call for Action on Human Rights.

The Escazú Agreement entered into force on Earth Day 2021 after being ratified by half of its 24 signatory countries. This dialogue series sought to catalyze action to implement the Escazú Agreement in synergy with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and biodiversity-related Multilateral Environmental Agreements. This initiative was financed by the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) as part of the Environmental Governance Programme (EGP).

View Dialogue Series Report


The dialogue series sought to:

  • Distill lessons learned and good practices by Latin American and Caribbean countries that can serve to implement the Escazú Agreement and achieve positive outcomes for people and nature.
  • Outline innovative tools and examples of national jurisprudence and existing national laws and policies, and grounds-up initiatives that advance the realization of the right to a healthy environment.
  • Catalyze knowledge exchange on how to implement the Escazu Agreement in coordination with the UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights and the 2021 EU Parliament Resolution which calls on the EU Commission and Member States to support Latin American countries to deliver on the agreement's goals.


The dialogue series consisted of three sessions.

  • Opening and Roundtable 1 - 18 October 2021: Escazú Agreement’s regionally rooted legal innovations: Why they matter for people and nature and what’s next? (90 minutes)
  • Roundtable 2 - 19 October 2021: The Escazu Agreement in an interconnected world: Catalysing global collaboration for Escazu Agreement’s effective implementation (60 minutes)
  • Peer-to-peer workshop - 27 October 2021: Escazu Agreement across States and UN agencies (limited spaces, 90 minutes)


Session recordings are now available. To learn more about the sessions and watch the recordings, select the session(s) you are interested in in the Course content section below.


For more information or if you have any questions, please contact the organizing team at

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Course Includes

  • 4 Modules

Meet and Greet

Introduce yourself to fellow dialogue series participants here!

Course experts

Marcos A. Orellana was appointed Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights in August 2020. He is an expert in international law and the law on human rights and the environment. His practice as legal advisor has included work with United Nations agencies, governments, and non-governmental organisations.


For the past twenty years, Claudia Ituarte-Lima has specialized in human rights, biodiversity and climate law. She has direct experience in international policy-making, including providing expert advice to the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity. As an international public lawyer and scholar, her focus is on environmental justice and the transformation of international law into new governance forms that support healthy ecosystems and people’s well-being, particularly in Latin America, Southeast Asia, Eastern Africa, and Europe. She is a Senior Researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute and is also affiliated with Stockholm University and the University of British Columbia.


María Candela Zaffiro Tacchetti is an Argentinian lawyer specializing in Diplomacy and International Public Service. Since 2019, she has worked at the Regional Office of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) as a regional consultant on environmental governance and pollution, supporting the implementation of environmental governance, chemicals and waste initiatives, as well as regulatory components of UNEP projects and initiatives in this area. Before joining UNEP, Candela worked in the legal department of the Ministry of Infrastructure of Buenos Aires, Argentina.


Per is currently a researcher at the University of Sodertorn. For the last 20 years he has specialized in shedding light on environmental degradation and aligning incentives towards better sustainability, in the “green, blue and grey” fields. Catalyzing his experience from government, UN, OECD, EU, and business consulting, he finds answers to policy challenges in transdisciplinarity, combining seemingly unrelated issues and initiatives. Ten years living and working in Latin America, Asia and Africa have provided him with a deep understanding of key welfare and environmental challenges (PhD Cambridge University, MSc University College London, in environmental economics).


Paloma Costa is a young climate activist from Brasília. She is a researcher in the Juridical Clinic of Human Rights – Juridical Office for Ethnic and Cultural Diversity (JUSDIV). Paloma is also a legal advisor on social-environmental rights at Instituto Socioambiental. Her responsibilities include bringing the youth perspective to the organization. From 2018 to 2020, she coordinated the Working Group of Climate in the youth-led organization Engajamundo and the brazilian youth delegations to COP24th, COP25th, UN LAC Climate-Week and #AmazonCenteroftheWorld. Paloma co-created EduClima – a Climate Education Program for the Youth and the Youth Demands for the development of Brazil. She is a member of the Feminist Coalition for Climate Action at UN Women and as a member of the Abu Dhabi Youth Voices (#Super30). Paloma is also a Youth advisor to the UN Secretary-General as part of the UN SG’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Changes. In 2019, she was appointed as one of the 20 women that make the difference in Brazil by UOL. In 2020, she was appointed as one of the 100 most influential Latinos in the climate by Sachamama. In 2021, she was recognized as one of the Climate Influencers by Época Negócios. During the pandemic, she has been supporting Indigenous youth initiatives, awareness and meaningful participation in decision-making processes.


Natalia Gomez works with EarthRights International as a Climate Change Policy Advisor. Since 2015, she has served as one of the elected representatives of the Public for the Escazu Agreement. Originally from Bogotá, Colombia, and a lawyer by training, Natalia has worked on human rights and environmental protection with a particular focus on Latin America for the past nine years. Before joining EarthRights, Natalia led CIVICUS’s advocacy around civic space in Latin America and environmental rights. She also supported the secretariat of the Vuka! Coalition for Civic Action working to fight back the closing of civic space. Prior to joining CIVICUS, Natalia coordinated the environmental democracy program at Asociación Ambiente y Sociedad, a Colombian human rights and environment NGO. Later, she worked with RFK Human Rights and the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights in Washington, D.C.

Natalia holds an LL.M. degree in International Legal Studies with a specialization in international human rights law and international environmental law from American University Washington College of Law.


Máximo Mazzocco is the founder and managing director of Eco House Global, a youth-led environmental organization with one of the highest amounts of volunteers in Latin América. With 30 active programs in the region, Eco House Global co-organised the LAC Youth Climate Summit 2021, and had an impact on achieving the historical climate-biodiversity-strikes, the Declaration of Climate Emergency, the National Law of Climate Change, the National Law of Environmental Education, among others, in Argentina. Recently, Máximo was selected as a UNDP Youth Leader by the Generation17 initiative, was declared an “Outstanding Personality” by the Buenos Aires City and as an “Outstanding Young Man” by JCI International. He was a Youth Delegate at COP25 and the UN Climate Summit NY 2019, as well as the Coordinator in Youth4Climate. Máximo has served as an environmental advisor to dozens of politicians and businessmen. His academic studies include environmental science, business administration, philosophy and climate change.


Jairo Acuña-Alfaro is a UNDP Governance Team Leader for Latin America and the Caribbean. Mr. Acuña has extensive experience in governance and public sector reforms. He has worked, among others, at the World Bank Institute, the Danish International Development Agency, HN Consultants ApS in Denmark, and the Monterrey Institute of Technology in Mexico. From 2014 to 2019, he was a UNDP’s global advisor on basic government functions, where he led institutional reforms in countries affected by fragility and conflict. Mr. Acuña holds academic degrees from Oxford University (Ph.D. candidate and Master of Arts), the University of Essex in England (MA in Political Economy), and Universidad Nacional, Costa Rica (MSc International Relations).


Xavier Mena is the Deputy Regional Representative of the Regional Office for South America of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Santiago, Chile. Xavier holds a PhD and Law Degree from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Ecuador; and a Master’s Degree in International Humanitarian Law and International Criminal Law from the Universitat Oberta de Cataluña. Xavier was a lawyer at the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and has served in various capacities for the Office of the High Commissioner in several Latin American countries, such as Colombia, Guatemala and Bolivia.


Santiago Carrizosa is Senior Technical Advisor on Biodiversity and Ecosystems for Latin America and the Caribbean and Global Lead for Access to Genetic Resources and Benefit Sharing at UNDP. Since joining UNDP in 2007, Santiago has advised multiple countries with the design of projects that contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity, mitigation and adaptation to climate change. Prior to joining UNDP Santiago worked with the Inter-American Development Bank in the design of its biodiversity policy and the incorporation of biodiversity criteria in its project portfolio. Santiago has also been a professor at the University of California, Davis where he taught environmental policy. Santiago is a biologist with a Ph.D. in Environmental Policy and Natural Resource Management and over 30 years of experience in environmental issues. Santiago is the author of multiple publications in the areas of genetic resource access and benefit sharing, conservation and biodiversity use.


Patricia Mencay Nenquihui Nihua

Born in the community of Kiwaro, Pastaza province 42 years ago, she began her activities as a teacher and at an early age joined the women who founded the Association of Waorani Women of the Ecuadorian Amazon, where she quickly developed her skills as a leader of the nationality. As a human rights activist, she is invited to several countries to give testimony of the resistance processes of Waorani women against the presence of the oil, mining and logging industries in the territory. She has held several positions within the Association, being elected president by unanimous vote of the general assembly of members for two consecutive terms. She currently holds the presidency of the organization, which over time has grown and achieved several national and international recognitions.


Carlos de Miguel is Chief of the Sustainable Development Policies Unit of the Sustainable Development and Human Settlements Division of ECLAC, where he has worked since 2001. He directs lines of research on climate change, environmental performance and economic instruments, among others. She coordinates ECLAC’s actions as Secretariat of the Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean (Escazú Agreement). He has published numerous books, journal articles and working papers on various topics related to development and the environment. D. in Economics from the University of Valladolid (Spain), Master in Environmental Economics from the University of Chile (Chile) and followed the European Studies program at the Catholic University of Tilburg (The Netherlands).


Andrea Quesada-Aguilar is a gender, sustainable development and environment specialist at the UNDP Regional Center in Panama.

Based in Costa Rica, Andrea Quesada-Aguilar is one of the leading gender and environment experts in Latin America. In the past 12 years, Andrea has been involved in numerous pioneer initiatives to ensure that climate change and biodiversity agreements, policies, programs and projects promote gender equality and women’s rights. As part of these initiatives, Andrea has lead international and national advocacy and capacity building efforts; supported various platforms to strengthen women’s networks; and worked in several research initiatives to promote gender sensitive environmental policies and implement gender responsive programs and projects in 14 developing countries in Latin America, Asia and Africa. Andrea holds a Master of Science from the University of Pittsburgh, is the author of multiple publications and an amateur photographer.


Terence Hay-Edie is a Programme Advisor for the GEF Small Grants Programme (SGP) implemented by the UNDP, and Programme Manager for the Global ICCA Support Initiative funded by the German Federal Ministry of the Environment. Since its inception in 1992, the SGP has provided cumulative funding of over $800 million to civil society organizations in 133 countries worldwide to tackle the inter-linked crises of biodiversity loss, climate change, and land degradation. He holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Cambridge.


Carole Excell is an environmental lawyer and civic engagement activist with global experience promoting environmental democracy and environmental justice, with a special focus on inclusive and equitable development, support for increasing civil space, and protection of environmental and land defenders. She has over 15 years of experience in providing legal and policy development advice, creating advocacy strategies, developing coalitions and networks, as well as engagement with new forms of civic participation.


Patty Balvanera is a professor at the Institute for Ecosystems and Sustainability Research at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. She was trained in biology, ethnobotany and ecology. Within large inter- and trans-disciplinary teams and research networks, she explores the role of biodiversity in contributing to human well-being via ecosystem services and analyzes the dynamics of social ecological systems. At the local scale, she monitors the dynamics of managed diverse tropical systems, and co-develop more sustainable food systems in diverse teams brought together by creatives around the kitchen. At the global scale, she develops conceptual frameworks and monitoring strategies, performs cross-site syntheses, and undertakes systematic literature reviews. She has led several inter- and trans-disciplinary initiatives such as the Scientific Committee of the Programme for Ecosystem Change and Society, a Core Project of Future Earth, the Mexican Network on Social Ecological Systems and Sustainability, and is the Co-Chair of the Values Assessment of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. She is currently associate editor of Science Advances, People and Nature, Ecology and Society, Ecosystem Services, and Ecosystems and People.