Environmental human rights defenders [EHRD] fight for political, cultural, social, economic and environmental rights alike, while often facing intimidation and violence for their work and activism. In this inter-disciplinary project, we seek to investigate to what extent EHRD serve as important agents of change at the crossroads of cultural and biodiversity conservation as well as climate change mitigation and adaptation.
We first develop an overarching conceptual understanding of EHRD that can be applied to different social and regional contexts. We then focus our analysis on post-conflict Colombia, where EHRD assume a prominent yet precarious role as change agents. We analyse their goals, motivations and underlying discourses, and then investigate the practices they apply for protecting cultural heritage and promoting sustainable development. We further analyse the effects these strategies have, both successes and obstacles, including threats and severe implications for the vulnerability of EHRD. Across the steps of our analysis, we use an interdisciplinary mixed-methods approach drawing on political science, human geography, sustainability science and law. Our expected findings will provide multiple perspectives of the nexus of cultural heritage, biodiversity and climate change. We will contribute to better understanding and supporting different groups of EHRD, through informing international, Colombian and Swedish policy makers, civil society organizations and academics.