The world is at cross-roads with the convergence of several crises: catastrophic climate change, rapid ecosystem and biodiversity decline, land degradation on a massive scale, and increasing economic inequality in spite of a reduction in extreme poverty. Despite bold global commitments, and some successes, progress on all of these issues has been too little and too slow. Climate change, however, is a cross-cutting issue that has become the most pressing one. If not addressed, the projected consequences are so severe that they will make efforts to solve the other crises redundant or even impossible. Of note, the linkages between biodiversity and climate change are of particular concern to IUCN, including the need to recognize both the existential threat human - forced climate change presents to biodiversity, and the role of nature-based solutions in mitigating greenhouse gas emissions.
In this context, the CCSG is the principal source of legal technical advice to the IUCN, its members, and the WCEL on legal aspects of addressing climate change and its adverse impacts internationally and nationally. It also provides a source of expertise on these issues for the Environmental Law Centre – and vice versa. In carrying out its work, the CCSG seeks to interact, collaborate, and coordinate with other WCEL Specialist Groups with respect to legal issues relevant to climate change.
Goals of the Specialist Group
- Providing input and influencing IUCN activities to address climate change;
- Increasing the relevance, understanding, and application of legal principles to combat climate change;
- Offering policy advice on the interpretation, application and implementation of existing climate change-related laws;
- Advising on the design of new legal tools addressing the relationship of laws related to climate change across different sectors (horizontal) and hierarchical layers (vertical);
- Assessing and comparing legal instruments in terms of fit, scale, and effectiveness to continuously improve legal regimes addressing climate change;
- Expanding understanding of the role of judicial and quasi-judicial avenues in climate change-related issues such as recourse to courts, compliance mechanisms, and dispute settlement;
- Monitoring international negotiations with relevance to climate change including work under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), the UN International Civil Aviation Administration (ICAO), the International Maritime Organization (IMO), and the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).
Projects of the Specialist Group
The CCSG is currently working on four main projects, as approved by the WCEL Steering Committee:
- Getting to zero: Climate change mitigation and land use - a study of policy options for balancing emissions and removals (2019-2022)
Project Coordinator: Fabiano de Andrade Correa
- Legal issues in the implementation of the Paris Agreement (2018-2022)
Project Coordinator: Jessica Owley
- Fighting climate change: A best practice guide for judges and courts (2019-2022)
Project Coordinator: Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh and Sarah Mead
- The transition of energy systems (2019-2022)
Project coordinators: Raya Salter and Stuart Bruce
For more information on a specific project and its milestones, please contact the respective Project Coordinator!
Climate Change Specialist Group Chair
Dr. juris Christina Voigt is professor at the Department of Public and International Law, University of Oslo, Norway. Professor Voigt is an expert in international environmental law. She works in particular on legal issues of climate change, environmental multilateralism and sustainability. Professor Voigt is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL), member of the IUCN Task Force on Climate Change and the chair of the IUCN WCEL´s Specialist Group on Climate Change. In 2009, she was awarded the first IUCN Academy of Environmental Law Junior Scholarship Prize.
Since 2009, she has also been working for the Norwegian government as lead negotiator on REDD+ (Reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation in developing countries) and as principal legal advisor in the UN climate negotiations; negotiating, inter alia, the Paris Agreement (2015) and the Katowice Rulebook for the Paris Agreement (2018). At COP24 in Katowice, she was co-facilitator for the negotiations on the rules for the Agreement´s compliance committee.
Climate Change Specialist Group Junior Deputy Chair
Marina Venâncio is a lawyer, international consultant, and a Ph.D. candidate in ecological and human rights at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (Florianópolis, Brazil). She is the Brazil Country Representative of the Young Professionals for Agricultural Development (YPARD), Junior Deputy Chair of the IUCN World Commission of Environmental Climate Change Specialist Group (WCEL CCSG), and member of the IUCN WCEL Early Career Group (WCEL ECG).
Her research is focused on the interconnection between agroecology and the human right to food and on inter-disciplinary issues such as rural development policy, climate change, sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity, and youth engagement. Marina was awarded the Green Talents 2016, from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, thanks to her research on agroecological public policies.
Open call for submissions:
Contribute to the CCSG work by submitting a Climate Change Country Report. The reports should be concise and focused on a pressing climate change issue in a specific country. They will provide inputs to our projects, be made available in our repository, and featured in the WCEL news.
The submissions should follow the given guidelines: (1) minimum of 500 words, maximum of 1,200 words, excluding references; (2) clear language; (3) Chicago-style citation; (4) the report should include: title, author information, introduction, conclusion, and references; (5) format is free template is available upon request); (6) and submission should be made to the e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, copying Professor Christina Voigt (email@example.com).
The IUCN WCEL Climate Change Specialist Group is a global network of legal practitioners and scholars, with connections to experts from various disciplines, and is seeking to engage its members.
We are always looking for new ideas, new partnerships, and assistance as we unpack and execute our body of work. If you are interested in CCSG membership, have any doubts, or would like to propose a project or partnership, please contact us using