Safeguarding Biodiversity and Human Rights through Law and Regulation 

biodiversity European consumption causes biodiversity loss far away from the place of consumption and predominantly in countries of the Global South. The research project ”Protecting Biodiversity through Regulating Trade and Business Relations” sets out to contribute to protecting biodiversity and safeguarding human rights outside Europe by analysing how the European Union (EU) and European countries can regulate their impacts abroad through effective, fair and coherent laws and policies. 

Dr. Claudia Ituarte-Lima is principal investigator on behalf of RWI and Dr. Radu Mares is also part of this transnational research team, who will work collaboratively on this three-year research project. The project also has an Advisory Committee consisting of officials in intergovernmental organizations, civil society and academics. The consortium consists of scholars from 4 institutions: RWI, the Finish Environment Institute, University of Copenhagen, and University of Bern. The sponsor is BiodivERsA, a network of national and regional funding organisations promoting pan-European research on biodiversity, ecosystem services and Nature-based Solutions.  

The research consortium combines expertise in law, policy, and trade and its nexus with biodiversity to uncover the root causes of biodiversity loss and degradation of healthy ecosystems and reveal legal innovations that can be used towards conserving, restoring and sustainably using biodiversity and healthy ecosystems upon which we all depend. 

Our project aims to produce novel understanding of current and future European trade rules that impact or target to protect and enhance biodiversity and human rights outside Europe. We examine how EU and European countries can regulate their impacts on biodiversity and human rights in Southeast Asia, Latin America and Eastern Africa to contribute to positive socio-ecological outcomes. The presumption is that by regulating European business relations, European law can extend its positive biodiversity impact elsewhere outside the world, possibly having a major impact in reaching the goals of international environmental and human rights agreements.  

The project will increase understanding on how scientific knowledge, other knowledge systems and multiple values of biodiversity need to be brought into the shaping of law and the definition of lawful vs unlawful activities. Taking an ecosystems approach, we examine the way socio-ecological are interconnected: forest, wetlands, farmlands and aquatic ecosystems cannot be effectively protected or restored separately. We weave the ecosystems approach with legal innovations. Fundamental rights are interconnected: the right to a healthy environment cannot be separated from right to life and land rights, and workers’ rights.  

Are you interested in hearing more? Please contact:

Claudia Ituarte-Lima, Head of the Human Rights and Environment Thematic Area and Senior Researcher,  Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, 

Project partners

Anu Lähteenmäki-Uutela, Senior Research Scientist, Finnish Environment Institute, Coordinator of the project consortium 

Elisabeth Bürgi Bonanomi, Senior lecturer, Center for Development and Environment, University of Bern,  

Carola Glinski, Associate Professor Faculty of Law, 

Claudia Ituarte-Lima

Claudia Ituarte-Lima

Leader of the Human Rights and the Environment Thematic Area


Dr. Claudia Ituarte-Lima is Leader of the Human Rights and the Environment thematic area and senior researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

She is an international public lawyer and scholar with direct experience in international law and policy making. For the last 20 years, she has worked on human rights and environmental law (in particular biodiversity and climate change). She holds a PhD (University College London) and a MPhil (University of Cambridge).

Her work unites legal analysis and sustainability science for examining environmental and human rights governance challenges and innovative levers to address them. She has bridged the human rights and biodiversity “communities of practice” through leading research such in the Biodiversa project on safeguarding ecosystems and human rights through law and regulation. She has also experience designing multiactor dialogue processes and blended learning courses for judges, National Human Rights Institutions, environmental human rights defenders and United Nations staff. Her research expertise is complemented by her experiential learning by living in Sweden, Mexico, Kenya, Japan and Canada and the Peruvian and Ecuadorian Amazon region.

Dr. Ituarte-Lima has analysed the interplay between laws at distinct geographical scales. Her research ranges from empirically-based case studies in Latin America, Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa, to legal analysis examining the interactions between international legal regimes in particular between the Convention on Biological Diversity, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and international human rights treaties. Her work has been published in English, Spanish, Burmese, Thai, Vietnamese, and Japanese.

She serves as regional deputy director for Latin America of the Global Network on Human Rights and Environment, acts as an expert advisor to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment and was a member of the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) expert group in policy support tools and methodologies.

Before working at RWI, she worked at the Stockholm Resilience Centre at Stockholm University and she has held visiting status including at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs at University of British Columbia in Canada, the Environmental Change Institute at University of Oxford in the UK, the Global Centre of Excellence Programme in Conflict Studies at Osaka University in Japan, the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences (FLACSO) in Ecuador and ECOSUR in Mexico.

For further updates on her research, please refer to her Research profile:


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