RWI recently carried out a Human Rights and Environment workshop in Bangkok. The face-to-face training with academics and NHRIs from Southeast Asia took place under the auspices of RWI’s regional programme in Asia. The goal is to strengthen the capacity of NHRIs and academic institutions in the region, supporting them so that they can fulfil their roles and mandates to promote and protect human rights with greater efficiency.
“These are really central issues today in this fast developing region. Equipping actors that can engage from a human rights perspective where environmental damage causes impacts on people and livelihoods is one way we have identified to support sustainable development in Asia,” says Helena Olsson, RWI Programme Officer based in Jakarta.
Twenty candidates were selected through nominations from NHRIs, and applications from academic institutions. The workshop was a part of RWI’s Regional Blended Learning Course, which was funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation and is now in its second year after a successful launch in 2015.
“The issue on human rights and the environment is a very relevant issue not only to the Philippines, not only to the region, but to the entire world. Professionally, this will help our university put together modules and do research work particularly in this area on how human rights are affected by environmental issues,” says Ryan Quan, Coordinator of the Ateneo de Manila University’s Graduate Legal Studies Institute.
The course also consisted of a thirty-day online component which took place prior to the workshop. The online component assisted participants in broadening their understanding and deepening their skills, especially in regard to the practical application of instruments and mechanisms presented.
The workshop was initiated In order to assist academics and national human rights institutions in further improving their knowledge in regard to legal and operational links between human rights and the environment. It sought to strengthen skills in regard to this, encouraging participants to utilize such links in order to protect and promote human rights within the region. “[It] has enhanced learning by personal interaction with a professor as well as stories and cases exchanged amongst participants. So this gives all the participants a better insight on how human rights are actually impacted by environmental issues and environmental problems, not only in my country but in the whole Asian region,” Quan says.