Land and Environmental Defenders at COP28

A Briefer on Advancing Climate Justice through Participation, Recognition, and Protection of Environmental Defenders


As the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has emphasized in its 2023 Synthesis Report, rights-based approaches, inclusivity, and broad and meaningful participation are essential to effective climate action. ICNL has previously highlighted the importance of protecting civic freedoms and public participation to ensure a just and sustainable transition.

In advance of the 28th Conference of Parties of the UNFCCC (COP28), ICNL, together with civil society partners, prepared a Joint NGO Briefing for UNFCCC COP28 on Land and Environmental Defenders, presenting policy positions and recommendations aimed at advancing climate justice through increased participation, recognition and protection of land and environmental defenders (LEDs). This briefing note sets out three over-arching recommendations to advance a human rights-based approach to climate action and climate justice:

  • Civic space and meaningful participation of LEDs in climate policy-making must be guaranteed, and their role and human rights in advancing climate action should be recognized and protected.
  • Indigenous and local LEDs’ land rights and tenure security must be prioritized in national and international policies.
  • The Global Stocktake (GST) outcome must be human rights-based and provide recognition and protection of LEDs, which effectively enhances the ambition of the Paris Agreement. The GST outcome must include specific guidance on how parties should increase their intention to fulfill human rights obligations, and how to develop the next round of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) by ensuring the promotion, protection, and respect of human rights.