Center for Human Rights and Companies and WWF launch study about conservation areas

The study that underpinned the report came in response to recent growth in bills to recategorize, reduce and end conservation areas in Brazil and across the world. Its goal was to establish parameters and minimum conditions for the legislative analysis of bills to alter conservation areas, considering laws and regulations designed to protect the environment

On February 25, 2021, the Center for Human Rights and Companies (FGV CeDHE), part of Fundação Getulio Vargas’ Sao Paulo Law School, and WWF-Brasil launched a report called Recategorization, Reduction and End of Conservation Areas – Criteria for Legislative Decision Making to Protect the Environment and a summary version called Guide to Legislative Assessment of Bills to Recategorize, Reduce and End Conservation Areas.

The study that underpinned the report came in response to recent growth in bills to recategorize, reduce and end conservation areas in Brazil and across the world. Its goal was to establish parameters and minimum conditions for the legislative analysis of bills to alter conservation areas, considering laws and regulations designed to protect the environment. Compliance with these parameters should not be used as a justification to automatically pass bills, but instead seen as a minimum requirement to begin discussions in Congress, ensuring that this debate takes place in a democratic, participatory and transparent way, while respecting human rights, including the right to an ecologically balanced environment.

The study was initiated in September 2018, through a partnership between the FGV Sao Paulo Law School’s Sustainable Development Clinic and WWF-Brasil. The study examined the justifications given for lawmakers’ proposals and discussions to reduce, end or recategorize conservation areas in Brazil and it mapped the main interests lying behind these proposals.

In order to improve decision making and ensure better protection for conservation areas, based on the Sustainable Development Clinic’s research findings, the Center for Human Rights and Companies, in partnership with WWF-Brasil, then looked in more detail at alterations to conservation areas, analyzing Brazilian legislation and case law, bills to alter conservation areas, and information collected at interviews and workshops with different stakeholders.

The report concludes that bills to alter conservation areas need to meet at least the following conditions in order to ensure high-quality and democratic discussion in Congress: (i) such proposals must be made in the form of bills and not executive orders or decrees; (ii) they must be underpinned by technical studies; (iii) they must be preceded by a public consultation involving well-informed stakeholders; (iv) they must not legalize illegal acts, such as unlawful land grabbing; (v) they must not harm attributes that justified the creation of the conservation area in the first place; and (vi) they must provide for environmental mitigation.

See the complete study here.

See the summary version here.