A six-month regional course on human rights and environment recently began in South Asia to enable judges, companies and human rightsactors to learn together. The 2018 course – Blended Learning Course on Human Rights, Gender Equality and Environment/Climate Change in the Framework of the SDGs in South Asia – brings together 25 representatives of NHRIs, courts and corporations from Sri Lanka, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Maldives, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
They will participate in a series of training and dialogue forums combining theory and practice that will run from June to December.
The course group met for the first time in June in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in a workshop which introduced the various themes in focus, including links between human rights and environment; groups and rights at special risk, including indigenous peoples, human rights defenders, children and different marginalised groups; human rights in the SDGs; and business human rights and environment.
The Chairperson of the Sri Lankan Human Rights Commission, Dr Deepika Udagama, opened the workshop together with Charlotta Bredberg, Counsellor from the Swedish Embassy in Thailand on regional Development Cooperation.
The workshop was led by Prof Sumudu Atapattu, with complementary sessions by Anisha Rajapakshe (business and human rights), Sebnem Kenis (gender and SDGs), and a number of experts leading a field visit and explaining challenges for human rights defenders and human rights and environmental impacts of development projects.
Furthermore, a fictive role-play on climate change was complemented by a documentary on real life challenges of the Maldives, and participants engaged actively throughout from different points of perspectives. The second phase of the course is currently underway with four online modules that will run to 15 August.
Between September and November, judges, corporations and NHRIs will meet separately to go more in-depth on their respective roles and experiences before the course wraps up in a joint meeting with all participants and experts in December.
RWI partners and coordinates with among others the ICJ, ASEAN CSR Network and APF in the implementation of the blended learning course. The course has been an annual feature in RWI’s regional programmes in Asia since 2016.