Legal Expert (Environmental Rights)

United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment)

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Result of Service

Work Assignments & Outputs:

Output 1: Together with Regional Coordinator for Environmental Governance, develop a workplan with set timelines for activities. (30/01/2021)
Deliverable: Final workplan

Output 2: Develop database of information on environmental rights (15/02/2021)
Deliverable: Datebase created

Output 3: Summary brief on SDG16, environmental rights and environmental rule of law in Asia Pacific (28/02/2021)
Deliverable: Draft brief and final brief

Output 4: Develop succinct country specific environmental rights briefs for at least 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region and prepare
PowerPoint files for each brief highlighting key issues (April, June, October 2021)
– Draft of country briefs
– Final country briefs
– Ppt slides highlights key issues

Output 5: Support the development and updating of Environmental Rights Situation Reports for countries in the Asia Pacific Region (April, June, October 2021)
– Draft of situation reports
– Final country situation reports

Output 6: Training material on integrating human rights in environmental analysis (30/06/2021)
– Slide deck
– Reference material
– Facilitated exercises
– Script

Output 7: Technical paper on threats to environmental rule of law and environmental rights (both procedural and substantive) in Asia Pacific (30/22/2021)
– Draft technical paper
– Final paper

Performance indicators for evaluation of outputs:
Timely delivery of deliverables as outlines in the ToR. Regular consultations will be held between the consultants and UNEP.

Work Location



Expected duration

1 January 2021-15 December 2021

Duties and Responsibilities

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

UNEP’s Asia and the Pacific Office geographically serves 41 countries across the region to promote and implement sustainable development solutions. It works in close partnership with key stakeholders including governments, the private sector, civil society, and other UN agencies. Asia Pacific is the largest and fastest growing region in the world. Implementation of environmental commitments under Multilateral Environmental Agreements and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in this dynamic and diverse region requires good laws and strong institutions that adequately enforce them. UNEP supports countries in Asia and the Pacific to achieve this goal. It works with a broad range of partners to support the development or strengthening of environmental laws and their enforcement to achieve countries’ environmental goals in the context of sustainable development.

The Law Division leads the development and implementation of the UNEP Environmental Governance subprogramme, which includes the promotion of streamlined and coherent environmental governance at the international level, the promotion of progressive development and implementation of environmental law, support to international environmental agreements (known as multilateral environmental agreements – MEAs), and promotion of mainstreaming of environmental objectives in the development sector.

The activities of the International Environmental Law Unit in the Law Division are founded on the mission of UNEP to provide leadership and advice on matters related to international environmental law to Governments and other stakeholders. The Unit is responsible for the progressive development of international environmental law and the promotion of environmental rule of law across the UN system. The Unit implements decisions from UNEP’s Governing Body – the United Nations Environment Assembly – where it is responsible and provides legal advice to programmes and activities of UNEP’s other substantive Divisions in the area of international environmental law. In addition, the National Environmental Law Unit of the Law Division focuses on the provision of technical support to countries to develop/strengthen and implement environmental law, and to build capacity of various stakeholders and institutions with respect to the development and implementation of, compliance with, and enforcement of, environmental law, including commitments set out in MEAs.

UNEP has been working on human rights and the environment for almost two decades and engages with members States and other actors to promote, protect and respect environmental rights under the Environmental Rights Initiative. A core pillar of the Environmental Rights Initiative is integrating environmental rights, including rights to a healthy environment into UN processes. These processes include the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF), the UN Common Country Analysis (CCA) and the UN regional cooperation mechanisms particularly the Issue Based Coalitions (IBC).

The UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (Cooperation Framework) is the core instrument for articulating, planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating the role of the UN in achieving collectively-owned development results under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (Agenda 2030). The UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/72/279 elevates the UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework to become the most important instrument for planning and implementation of the UN development activities at country level. As a high-level strategic document, it should provide a holistic view of UN system-wide contributions to the implementation of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), based on national development priorities and the UN’s added value. As such, it governs all development programming efforts of the UN Country Team.
The UN Cooperation Framework draws upon the UN Common Country Analysis (CCA) for its situation analysis, priority setting and programmatic focus. The CCA is the UN system’s independent, impartial and collective assessment (i.e., a description of a country situation) and analysis (i.e., a description of causes and their implications) of a country’s situation for its internal use in developing the Cooperation Framework. It examines progress, gaps, opportunities and bottlenecks vis-à-vis a country’s commitment to achieving the 2030 Agenda, UN norms and standards and the principles of the UN Charter including human rights. Multi-disciplinary in nature, the CCA seeks to engender integrated, cross-pillar systems thinking, summarizing the interlinkages and integrated nature of the SDGs; multidimensional factors spanning the development, humanitarian, peacebuilding and human rights spectrum; the country’s legal, institutional, policy and financial landscape as it pertains to the 2030 Agenda and; the root causes of crises – potential or actual – in order to prioritize our support in preventing these. In other words, the CCA should both reflect and support the ambitious and transformational change called for in the 2030 Agenda and guide how the UN can further that Agenda.

In this new generation of CCA’s, there is a requirement to integrate analysis of human rights and the environment, and their impact on achieving the 2030 Agenda in the country.

In this context, UNEP and the broader regional UN development system has been receiving an increasing number of requests from RCs and UN Country Teams to support them on the analysis of environment and human rights issues to feed into the UN CCA and UN Cooperation Framework.

In response, environmental rights issue briefs will be prepared for at least 12 UNCTs preparing CCAs and/or UNSDCFs in 2021,2022 and other identified priority countries. The briefs aim to achieve the following:

1) Strengthen the environment and human rights dimension of the UN CCA and UN Cooperation Framework by providing an evidence based, succinct, analysis of environmental rights issues and their country specific current and projected impacts to UNCTs preparing CCAs;
2) Catalyse and scale up UN system-wide action to support member states and regional intergovernmental bodies in addressing environmental rights challenges
3) Ensure that the human rights and environment nexus priorities identified by global, regional and subregional intergovernmental bodies and forums as well as Multilateral Environmental Agreements, inform UN system planning at country level e.g. UN Environment Assembly, ASEAN, Regional Forum of Ministers and Environment Authorities of Asia Pacific, Asia Pacific Forum for Sustainable Development etc.

The primary audience for the briefs and other outputs is the UN Country Team. The work can also be used to inform work of UN Development System Asia Pacific and relevant regional issue-based coalitions and feed into global, regional and subregional intergovernmental forums as appropriate.

UNEP wishes to engage the services of a consultant to:
• Collect data on good practices and effective measures to uphold environmental rights, limits to environmental rights, recent or ongoing situations of arrest, harassment or intimidation of land, indigenous or environmental defenders in countries, emerging or existing threats for implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, and trends towards weakening of environmental protection laws/ regulations or drafting laws and regulations which limit ability to uphold/exercise environmental rights in the Asia Pacific region.
• Develop succinct country specific environmental rights briefs for at least 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region to inform Common Country Analyses and UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Frameworks) covering:
o current status including key drivers and impacts backed up with data and the identification of data gaps;
o links to relevant SDG targets;
o review of national laws, policies, strategies, initiatives and relevant case law;
o review of applicable regional and global intergovernmental frameworks and the rights obligations of the government and other duty bearers;
o recommendations for governments and UNCTs to address the environmental rights issues;
• Support the development and updating of Environmental Rights Situation Reports for countries in the Asia Pacific Region to support communication, decision making and thought leadership in environmental rights issues for UNEP UN Country Team (UNCT) Focal Points and UNCTs
• Produce a technical paper on threats to environmental rule of law and environmental rights (both procedural and substantive) in Asia Pacific with regards to drivers and key sectors which are linked to environmental rights violations (i.e. extractives) and identify good practices and recommendations to uphold environmental rights in the region.
• Support the development of a summary brief on SDG16, environmental rights and environmental rule of law in Asia Pacific.
• Support the development of training material on integrating human rights (through HRBA and Leave No One Behind) in environmental analysis and the nexus between human rights and the environment (focusing on key drivers and sectors linked to environmental rights violations).

The consultant will support the delivery of Outputs. The consultant will undertake research and prepare the stated regional technical paper and brief, training materials and succinct environmental rights analysis briefs and Environmental Rights Situation Reports for each identified country. Countries will be determined in consultation with UNEP. The consultant, under the supervision of the Regional Coordinator for Environmental Governance, will carry out the activity under section 3 of this ToR.

Qualifications/special skills

Skills: – Excellent writing and communications skills;
– Excellent research and analytical skills
– Results focused;
– Clear and concise communication;
– Demonstrated capacity to work in a consultative manner, good networking and good inter-personal skills
Academic Qualifications: – A first level or postgraduate law or international relations/development degree from a university or institution of equivalent status with specialisation in environmental law and/or human rights and the environment
Experience: – A minimum of ten years of experience with environmental law and human rights and the environment.
– Four years of experience and knowledge of environmental law and governance, environmental rights and justice in Asia and the Pacific.
– Prior experience developing technical papers and briefs for UNEP and other UN and multilateral agencies
– Working experience in engaging and effective communications with diverse organizations and audiences interacting and coordinating large networks/groups.
Language: – Fluency in oral and written English is required.