In the last decades, contexts of negotiation at the international level were confronted to include and recognise other definitions, understanding and experiences of ‘the environment’, notably with alternative conferences such as the International Indigenous Peoples Forum on Climate change (IIPFCC), drawing attention to different actors and perspectives. These alternative fora became a systematic practice in parallel with intergovernmental conferences. Such an evolution made clear there was a discrepancy in representations and a need for an effective space of encounter and dialogue, in which knowledge as encounter aims at shared understanding and joint transformation.
In this light, the Working Group of Earth System Governance on the Representations and Rights of the Environment (ESGRREW) was created in 2016, opening an inclusive and ethical space, where different perspectives can join forces to shape a common understanding of our world in law and policy. Gathering critical and marginalised voices, for an effective dialogue encompassing different fields of knowledge and legal traditions, the ESGRREW was born in the Taskforce on the Conceptual Foundations of Earth System Governance, addressing ‘how ideas are inter-linked with real social forces and interests’, exploring how they frame international discussions, with a view to critically interrogating the ‘thought categories we use to make sense of the world’ and which ‘provide the foundation for contemporary theory and practice in the environmental domain’ (Meadowcroft, Gupta and Stevenson 2014). In that regard, ESGRREW investigates the representations of our relationship with the environment in the current international legal frameworks and in different legal traditions and orders. It fosters discussions on a common or articulated system of representation of the environment, and its formulation in law and governance — in legal language, institutional organisation, and social practice — as the foundation of a more just, operative and effective form of earth system governance.
ESGRREW Dialogue & Research Process
In 2017, the ESGRREW launched an intercultural and interdisciplinary Dialogue & Research Process with the sponsor of the Canadian Law and Society Association, in partnership with Future Earth, and with the patronage of UNESCO.
The ESGRREW has been organising events to that end, notably:
- ESGRREW Launch ‘Environmental Humanities, Ethical Foundation and New Thinking’ at Concordia University in Montreal (12-13 April 2017), with the opening conference on the ‘Founding Principles for Intercultural & Intersectorial Dialogue on the Environment’; a Session with Future Earth; an ESGRREW Workshop and a Seminar.
- ESGRREW Working Session on ‘Traditional Indigenous Knowledge, Earth Law and Environmental Justice’ in Montreal at the Annual General Assembly of the Canadian Commission for the UNESCO (26 May 2017);
- ESGRREW Symposium ‘Opening new Paths in the Representations and Rights of the Environment’ in Liège, Belgium (10th August 2017), at the World Humanities Conference on ‘Challenges and Responsibilities for a Planet in Transition’. With distinguished speakers across fields of knowledge (including law, public policy, philosophy, traditional knowledge, theology, history, linguistics, literature, visual and performative arts), and an Interactive Stereo 3D Art Exhibition on ‘The Ecology of Perception’, by Canadian artist Marten Berkman.
- ESGRREW Symposium ‘Addressing Climate Change: Technology, Law and Ethics’ on Oshawa, Ontario (25 January 2018), University of Ontario, Institute of Technology, at the ACDS/CLSA Conference on Technologies of Justice. The discussions concerned the UNESCO Declaration of Ethical Principles on Climate Change (2017), Traditional Indigenous Knowledge, and the concept of responsible innovation and its critique.
- ESGRREW Conference on ‘Justice between Generations: Asian, African, Indigenous and Western Perspectives’ at Concordia University in Montreal (29 Sept- 1 Oct 2021), organised in partnership with the network Nature-Time-Responsibility, and with the patronage of UNESCO. With the opening speech by Grandmother Mona Polacca on ‘Indigenous World View: Intergenerational Ethics and Heritage’ (29 sept. 2021).
– ESGRREW Book Launch ‘Representations and Rights of the Environment’, (23 March 2022), Concordia Annual Conference on Sustainability: Celebrating Indigenous Perspectives on Sustainability, Montreal 23-26th March 2022.