CIEL Welcomes Two New UN Special Rapporteurs Who Will Contribute to Addressing the Triple Environmental Planetary Crisis

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April 5, 2024

Geneva, CH — Today, during its 55th session, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Astrid Puentes for the position of UN Special Rapporteur on the right to clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, and Elisa Morgera for the position of UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change.

The two mandate-holders have the complementary expertise, the opportunity, and the imperative to promote ambitious, equitable, rights-based environmental and climate action.

Following the announcement, Francesca Mingrone, Staff Attorney at the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), issued the following statement:

“For the first time ever, two women  of whom one from the Global South   are appointed for the environment and climate mandates. We welcome the appointment of Astrid Puentes and Elisa Morgera. They bring decades of expertise in applying a human rights-based approach to environmental and climate action. Their strong academic expertise and insights into the heightened risks faced by the most marginalized communities in the context of environmental degradation and climate change, combined with their longstanding engagement with civil society,  international organizations, and States, position them well to leverage the human rights regime in support of those needing urgent action and justice.

“Both mandates are essential to ensure that the international community understands and responds adequately to the triple interconnected environmental crises of pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change. We are confident that  Ms. Morgera will be able to address the urgent and numerous challenges that the climate crisis poses. Similarly,  we trust that Ms. Puentes will work towards effective implementation of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment and tackle other pressing environmental crises. 

“The two mandates, together with the Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights,  provide a crucial opportunity to protect and uplift the human rights of communities and Indigenous Peoples at the frontlines of the triple planetary crisis in a holistic, human rights-based, and just manner. We look forward to engaging with Ms. Puentes and Ms. Morgera to support the demands of those who are suffering the most and yet are least responsible for this crisis.


Elisa Morgera is Professor of Global Environmental Law and the Director of the UKRI GCRF One Ocean Hub. She is a member of the Strathclyde Centre for Environmental Law and Governance. She specializes in international, European and comparative environmental law, with a particular focus on the interaction between biodiversity law and human rights (particularly those of indigenous peoples and local communities), equity and sustainability in natural resource development, oceans governance, and corporate accountability. Elisa has also researched the environmental dimensions of the external relations of the European Union (EU).


Astrid Puentes Riaño is a lawyer with more than two decades of experience in environmental law, human rights and climate change, and the intersection of these, with a perspective of climate justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. She has worked for and with communities and Indigenous peoples in Latin America, contributing to the protection of their rights and territory, including in Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Peru. She received her law degree from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogotá, holds a master's degree in comparative law from the University of Florida and has an environmental law degree from the University of the Basque Country. She served as co-executive director of the Interamerican Association for Environmental Defense, AIDA, from 2003 to August 2021. She is an independent consultant and has advised the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights in Mexico on catalyzing actions to better protect the environment, human rights and climate. 

Riaño has extensive experience in public interest environmental, human rights and climate justice litigation. She has published several articles and lectured at the Human Rights Academy of the American University, and at the Diploma on Strategic Litigation and Tools for the Defense of Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights at UNAM in Mexico, among others. She has been part of the board of directors of International Rivers since September 2021.


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