FREE International Women's Day webinar: Women Climate Defenders – Women at the frontline campaigning to protect Mother Earth

Wednesday 6 March 2024, 5pm - 6:30pm

Abigail Holt

Irena Sabic KC

Thalia Maragh

Jacklyn Frank

Sarah Finch

Professor Dr Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger

Dr Alessandra Donati

This webinar is brought you by the Environmental Law & Climate Justice Team.

Date: Wednesday 6 March 2024
Time: 5pm - 6:30pm
Venue: Online  
Cost: Free
Areas of Law: Environmental Law and Climate Justice , International Environmental Law , Garden Court International , Environmental Protest , Civil Liberties and Human Rights , Protest Rights , Environmental Impact Assessments , Commercial and Business Ethics , Climate Change and Fossil Fuel Production , Rights of Nature and Protection of Habitats , Protest Rights , Pollution , Protest Rights

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We are delighted to be hosting an International Women's Day webinar celebrating women at the frontline campaigning to protect Mother Earth on Wednesday 6th March 2024, chaired by Abigail Holt of the Environmental Law & Climate Justice Team.

The webinar will focus on how women are using human rights and land rights to protect our environment and home. We will be hearing from top Garden Court environmental law barristers Irena Sabic KC and Thalia Maragh, leading academics in the area, and from women climate defenders, Jacklyn Frank, a claimant in the landmark case on land grab and environmental degradation in Barbuda, and Sarah Finch, a climate campaigner fighting to prevent the drilling of new oil wells at Horse Hill in Surrey.

We will hear about Jacklyn's personal experience of taking the fight, against the government of Antigua and Barbuda, to protect her people's land to the Supreme Court for the Eastern Caribbean (the Privy Council). We will also hear from Sarah about her Supreme Court case challenging oil well development in Surrey, and how these developments must consider the wider environmental impact of fossil fuels.

Dr Alessandra Donati, referendaire at the CJEU and academic at Luxembourg University, will then speak on the precautionary principle and 'laws of anticipation' in the context of the fight to protect our earth. Professor Dr Cordonier Segger will outline the United Nations' vision for tackling climate change, biodiversity loss and upholding indigenous peoples’ rights, by implementing international law and advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. Thalia and Irena will speak about their recent trip to Kenya, delivering legal training to the Ogiek, an indigenous people of Kenya’s Mau Forest, on their rights as indigenous people, human rights and environmental law.

We will also be touching on some of the landmark cases Garden Court barristers are involved in on the world stage, including the KlimaSeniorinnen case, where over 2,000 women took the Swiss government to the European Court of Human Rights, claiming its inaction on climate change has violated their human rights, including their right to life and health. We will also be highlighting the Duarte Agostinho case, where six Portuguese young people, including 4 young women and girls, took 33 European States to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) arguing that these States are violating their human rights by failing to cut their emissions fast enough.

Speaker Bios

Abigail Holt, Garden Court Chambers (Chair)
Abigail has over 25 years of experience focusing mainly on accident, disease, health and medical-related issues and has experience in environmental law and climate justice work. Previously, Abigail worked on the “Zero Hour” Campaign in relation to the cross-party Climate and Ecology Bill, which aims to set concrete steps to implement the Paris Agreement. Her current practice includes industrial disease work, including asbestos litigation which aims to hold polluters accountable. Asbestos is a form of deadly air pollution which engages the tort rules in relation to the attribution of harm and apportionment. Abigail’s academic background in science, particularly epidemiology, supports her practice in asbestos disease litigation.

Abigail has been involved in research in relation to the EU Health Governance movement where academics attempt to generate public health-related policies applicable across the EU. The researchers frequently highlight that these policies would work in tandem with promoting green policies and fossil fuel-reducing policies. In 2023, Abigail completed Cambridge University's Democratising Education for Global Sustainability and Justice course. She is also the Treasurer of the European Circuit of the Bar and is co-convenor of the Garden Court‘s Commercial and Business Ethics Team.

Irena Sabic KC, Garden Court Chambers
Irena has extensive experience in climate justice and environmental law. In recent years, Irena has focussed her practice on issues of wider environmental importance and climate change. As well as delivering legal training for the Ogiek community in Kenya, Irena has advised on challenges to the Government’s Net Zero Strategy. Irena was instructed in the M4 Public Inquiry through the Environmental Law Foundation representing organisations including the Wildlife Trust, Gwent Wildlife Trust and Campaign for Protection of Rural Wales. Irena has experience in high-profile litigation having practiced in planning and environmental law at the start of her career at the Bar, including the eviction of Dale Farm residents in 2011.

Thalia Maragh, Garden Court Chambers
Thalia has maintained a criminal defence, human rights and constitutional law focused practice for over 20 years both at the Jamaican and English Bars. She has appearance before the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in many cases and has advised on numerous appeals.  Thalia has a growing international practice, appearing in the Privy Council and advising on the merits of appealing to the Privy Council, particularly cases which raise constitutional law issues. She has also appeared before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) as junior counsel to Leslie Thomas KC. As well as delivering legal training for the Ogiek community in Kenya, Thalia is currently instructed on the Barbuda runway challenge heard by the Privy Council, representing Jacklyn Frank and John Mussington.

Jacklyn Frank, Claimant in Barbudan Land Grab Case
Jacklyn saw her island-home devastated by Hurricane Irma in September 2017. Instead of contributing to recovery, foreign developers took advantage of Barbudans’ forced displacement to clear acres of forest to build a playground for billionaires, starting with a multi-million-dollar private resort and a new airport to serve private jets. Since then, developers expanded construction building a golf course over a protected wetland.

This was done without the consent of Barbudans. The Barbudan system of communal land ownership has come under attack, with changes to the law that benefit foreign developers and shut Barbudans out of decision-making processes. Jacklyn and her co-claimant John Mussington, backed by a growing community of local land defenders, are now fighting for the right to determine their own future. This is a true David versus Goliath fight; developers with endless resources are banking on them giving up their fight but Jacklyn and John have persevered, despite harassment and threats of legal action for trespass and sedition. There are serious environmental consequences at stake: Barbuda is extremely vulnerable to climate change as a low-lying island protected by a delicate wetland ecosystem. Judgment was handed down last week on 27 February, the Privy Council held that Jacklyn and her co-claimants have standing to challenge the construction of the runway on Barbuda

Sarah Finch, Climate Campaigner 
Sarah is campaigning, with Weald Action Group, against Surrey County Council’s decision to grant planning permission for oil production at Horse Hill, near Gatwick Airport. Her case was heard in the Supreme Court in June 2023 and is of major importance to future decisions about planning applications to extract fossil fuels across England and Wales.

The development allows for the production of up to 3.3 million tonnes of crude oil at Horse Hill over 20 years. This oil could produce more than 10 million tonnes of greenhouse gases when it's burned. Sarah argues that under the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Regulations 2017, these downstream emissions are “indirect effects” and should have been assessed by Surrey County Council planners. She was supported by Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace UK, both intervenors in the case. Judgment is awaited from the Supreme Court.

Professor Dr Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger, PhD (ad eund, Cantab), DPhil (Oxon), MEM (Yale), BCL & LLB (McGill), BA Hons (Carl/UVic) FRSC FRSA WIJA
Professor Dr Cordonier Segger is a world-leading scholar and jurist in the field of sustainable development law and governance. She serves as Chair in Sustainable Development Law and Policy in the University of Cambridge where she is also law fellow, director of studies and programme director in Lucy Cavendish College. Further, as senior director of the Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, executive secretary of the Climate Law and Governance Initiative for the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), and chair of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity Biodiversity Law and Governance Initiative, she lectures and leads global collaborations for climate law and governance, biodiversity and natural resources stewardship, human rights, indigenous peoples rights and future generations, trade and investment law and other international law contributing to the global Sustainable Development Goals.

She has published over 24 books and over 160 papers in five languages, edits a series of volumes on international treaty regimes for sustainable development with Cambridge University Press, and serves on editorial/review boards of five international law journals, having co-founded three. She serves as Vice-President of the International Law Association of Canada, chair of the Ethics and Sustainability Board, chair and arbitrator of trade and sustainable development accords, councillor of the World Future Council, and chair of several award and scholarship juries. She is a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law, also an affiliated fellow of the Lauterpacht Centre for International Law, the Centre for Energy, Environment and Natural Resources Governance and the Bennett Institute for Public Policy at the University of Cambridge; a Fellow of the Balsillie School for International Affairs and the Waterloo Climate Initiative, as well as Adjunct Professor at the University of Victoria and the School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED) in the University of Waterloo, both in Canada. She also holds over 20 years of international treaty negotiations, executive and capacity-building experience spanning over 80 countries as senior advisor to UN treaty negotiations, international organisations and countries on implementing the Sustainable Development Goals.

Dr Alessandra Donati, Court of Justice of the European Union Référendaire, University of Luxembourg Adjunct Lecturer, European Journal of Consumer Law Editor-in-Chief 
Alessandra Donati is a référendaire (legal clerk) at the Court of Justice of the European Union and a lecturer at the University of Luxembourg. She is also Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Consumer Law and co-editor of the collection Europe edited by Larcier-Intersentia. Alessandra holds a degree in law from the Università Commerciale Luigi Bocconi (Milan) and in economics from the Università Politecnica delle Marche (Ancona). She also holds an LL.M. in French and European Law from the University Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne and a PHD in European Union Law from the University Paris 1 - Panthéon Sorbonne. Her PHD thesis focused on the precautionary principle under EU law. Before joining the CJEU, Alessandra practised law, as a qualified attorney, in Italy (Milan) and France (Paris). She also worked as a junior and then senior researcher at the Max Planck Institute for procedural law in Luxembourg and, as postdoctoral researcher, at the University of Luxembourg. She has been a visiting researcher at the European University Institute and at the UCLouvain. Her primary research interests include EU environmental law with a specific focus on risk regulation and laws of anticipation in the context of climate change. 

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