World Commission on Environmental Law

2nd IUCN World Environmental Law Congress

The 2nd World Environmental Law Congress will take place at the Supreme Court Complex of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from 25 to 27 March 2020.
Supreme Court of the State of Rio de Janeiro



The 2nd IUCN World Environmental Law Congress will assess the role of environmental law in light of the critical ecological crises that we all face. 

The general theme of the Congress is Environmental Law 2030 and Beyond. The focus on the future, in connection with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), is an innovative look forward to and beyond the next decade for the legal discipline. This theme is a departure from the common approach in previous events that reflect primarily on past or present issues.

In light of emerging and continuing global challenges, and the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the Congress will reaffirm, further develop, and advance the 2016 World Declaration on the Environmental Rule of Law and set the stage for the design of its implementation guidelines. 

The Congress is hosted by the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), with support from the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment (GJIE), the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL), the Supreme Court, the Judicial Academy, and the Association of Judges of Rio de Janeiro, the Museu do Amanhã (Museum of Tomorrow), and several other international and national institutions.

With participants from over 120 countries anticipated, the Congress will be the largest gathering ever of environmental law experts from around the world.  All speakers are invited to examine and contribute to the update of the Declaration as the defining tool for strengthening environmental law in the coming decades.

Starting on Monday 23 March through Wednesday 25 March, five other major environmental law events will be held in coordination with the Congress:

  1. UNEP Fifth Montevideo Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law (Monday, March 23 through Wednesday, March 25)
  2. 3rd General Assembly of the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment (Monday, March 23)
  3. International Council of Environmental Law Meeting (Monday, March 23 and Tuesday, March 24)
  4.  WCEL Global Colloquium of Early Career Environmental Law Experts (Tuesday, March 24)
  5. WCEL Moot Court (Wednesday, March 25)

These combined global events will bring together a variety of distinguished actors involved in the development, compliance, and implementation of environmental law - including judges, legislators, prosecutors, scholars, government agencies, intergovernmental organizations, multilateral financial institutions, public interest organizations and the private sector.


The Congress will be divided into four parallel streams that will run simultaneously: (A) Environmental Rule of Law; (B) Biodiversity & the Post-2020 Framework; (C) Water Justice & Security; and (4) Oceans & Islands

The streams will be focused on the global environmental crises and on the challenge of advancing the environmental rule of law. Each stream will include keynote speakers, panels of presentations selected from the Congress’ call for papers, and roundtable dialogues on key issues for the future of environmental law. The Congress will culminate Friday afternoon by bringing together insights and recommendations from each stream to a closing plenary to define a global path for environmental law. 

Speakers and streams are invited to address the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, the 2016 World Declaration on the Environmental Rule of Law, and the following seven cross-cutting themes: Environmental Ethics; Climate Change; Indigenous Peoples & Vulnerable Communities; Youth & Gender Equity; Human Rights, Peace & Security; Science, Innovation, Technology & Energy; and Sustainable Agriculture.

Contact for more information. 

* The Congress has limited capacity due to the venue constraints and seeks to ensure a global diversity of participants. Therefore, registration does not automatically ensure acceptance as an attendee. Your attendance will be confirmed by the Congress Committee as soon as possible by direct email.

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