Reaching out to Latin American lawyers

Some countries in Latin America have already enacted specific climate change laws (e.g. Mexico and Peru) while others (e.g. Chile) are in the process of developing new legislation. To raise the critical mass among legal experts in the region who can contribute to the legal implementation agenda at the domestic, regional and international levels a network of climate change lawyers is being set up in Latin America.

With the support of LRI, a pilot of the initiative will be implemented first in Brazil, spearheaded by lawyers Caroline Dihl Prolo and Flávia Bellaguarda. Caroline is an attorney and head of the environmental law practice at the Brazilian law firm Stocche Forbes. Flávia Bellaguarda is a qualified lawyer in Brazil, climate change officer at ICLEI SAMS and co-founder of the Youth Climate Leaders – a social enterprise for young leadership training on climate change.

Caroline, who has been collaborating with LRI and working in the UNFCCC negotiations for more than seven years says: “In this climate crisis era, the law can be a powerful instrument to address climate change risks and to adapt to changing climate realities.”

The initiative is, therefore, aimed at building capacity and sharing legal tools amongst practitioners in the region, with a view to building a network that can provide legal support to governments, parliamentarians, civil society and other actors to help ensure implementation of the Paris Agreement and pave the way for a low carbon economy on the national and regional scale.

The first step in building the network was a survey amongst lawyers in Brazil. In response to a targeted questionnaire and call for support, almost one hundred lawyers from different walks of life expressed an interest to further develop their legal knowledge in the climate change context. Some of them (22%) indicated to have no such expertise; half felt they had acquired some relevant legal knowledge as part of their academic education and research.

Training for junior negotiators in Addis

Mock negotiations

LRI contributed to a regional training workshop organised by the European Capacity Building Initiative (ecbi) for junior negotiators from Francophone and Anglophone Africa from 29 April to 03 May in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. LRI is one of the ecbi lead organisations (with Oxford Climate Policy and IIED).

The aim of the workshop was to help junior negotiators and national policymakers to improve their working understanding of the main relevant themes of the UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement and its implementations guidelines, to develop skills to effectively partake in the negotiations and translate outcomes into national level implementation.

Topics covered, to name but a few, ranged from introduction to UNFCCC legal architecture, to adaptation, transparency and compliance under the Paris implementation guidelines. Participants also had dedicated time to undertake group work and exchange national experiences and challenges, for example on the NDC process and on accessing climate finance. Last but not least, participants’ negotiating skills were reinforced through sessions of mock negotiation on real and live contentious issues likely to arise at the upcoming negotiations.

Promoting parliamentary engagement on climate change in Burundi

Around two hundred Members of the Burundi Parliament took part in a workshop to promote parliamentary engagement in climate change related actions in the country. The workshop, held on 22nd March in Bujumbura, was organised by the Burundi National Assembly in conjunction with the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Environment. It was attended by the President of the National Assembly and the two Deputy Speakers of the Senate and National Assembly.

The workshop opened with some briefing on anthropogenic climate change causes and impacts in the Burundian context. LRI gave presentations on the Paris Agreement and the rules for its implementation (the so-called Rulebook) adopted at COP24, in December 2018, and highlighted those areas where more work will need to be done this year.

The next presentation focussed on the implications of the Paris Agreement and Rulebook for Burundi, with Ms. Renilde Ndayishimiye, until recently UNFCCC focal point for Burundi, introducing participants to the country’s nationally determined contribution and highlighting actions needed to fully implement the Agreement, and challenges and opportunities related to this.

The meeting provided an opportunity to showcase LRI’s new climate legislation advice portal, developed in collaboration with UN Environment, as a resource tool for parliamentarians and government policy makers engaged in law review and development at domestic level. The final session in invited participants to discuss ways in which parliamentarians can further support climate action in Burundi through legislation and institutional reforms.

Workshop report on the National Assembly website