In light of the rapid developments in the global health risks posed by COVID-19 and increasing complications for international travelers, the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law (WCEL) has postponed the 2nd World Environmental Law Congress (Rio Congress), the 3rd General Assembly for the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment, and associated events planned from 23 to 27 March 2020 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over 300 global participants were expected for the week-long series of events.
The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), WCEL’s key partner in the historic “Superweek” focused on the Environmental Rule of Law, had announced on 9 March 2020 that given the evolving COVID-19 situation it could not proceed with the three-day Fifth Montevideo Programme for the Development and Periodic Review of Environmental Law – First Global Meeting of National Focal Points (Montevideo Meeting). The Montevideo Meeting anchored the week of events, which culminated in the three-day Rio Congress, and would have brought in high-level governmental focal points from over 100 countries.
The joint decision to postpone the entire week to a future date was made after full consultation with the IUCN Secretariat, the WCEL Steering Committee, UNEP, the Global Judicial Institute on the Environment (GJIE) leadership, the International Council on Environmental Law (ICEL), and other partners, especially the Brazilian judiciary, bar associations, and government representatives, who had all been working very hard to ensure the safety of participants and the success of the various important events during the week.
The Congress organizers had already arranged for numerous health precautions to be taken during the event, including on-site medical care, sanitizers, temperature checks, and the attendance of a public health expert in epidemiology. However, the rapidly changing global health situation overtook even these substantial planning efforts.
On 9 March 2011, the Brazilian Government expanded the number of countries for COVID-19 monitoring. The Brazilian Ministry of Health announced that individuals arriving from a list of any of high-risk nations would be assessed for flu symptoms and symptomatic individuals would be isolated in a healthcare facility in Brazil. In an abundance of caution, the Rio Congress organizers then determined that it was prudent to postpone the week’s events to later in 2020.
WCEL will determine the specific future date of the Congress as soon as more information is available regarding the global health situation.
For more information about the Rio Congress, please visit the WCEL event page.
The decision to postpone these events in Rio de Janeiro is unrelated to the IUCN World Conservation Congress. More information about the Marseille Congress can be found here.