On 10 & 11 May 2019, legal experts from all over the world gathered in Paris, at La Sorbonne University, for a high-level conference on the Global Pact for the Environment. 

Laurent Fabius, in his quality of former President of COP21, gave the opening speech. He insisted on the emergency for States to act and on the need to adopt a legally binding instrument that would provide an appropriate protection of the environment.

PANEL 1: The Pact, context and development in international environmental law

The first-round table gathered Jorge E. Vinuales, Professor at Cambridge University; Yann Aguila, Chair of the Environment Commission of the “Club des Juristes” and Bahrat H. Desai, Professor at Nehru University in India.

The participants underlined that the idea of a Global Pact for the Environment was far from being new. In 1987, the Brundtland Report already pointed out the necessity to adopt a ” universal ”  convenant for the environment. In this respect, legal experts confirmed that time has come to adopt a Global Pact for the Environment and to set up the appropriate governance for it.

PANEL 2: The Pact, between rights and duties

The second-round table gathered Julie Ferrero, Professor at Panthéon-Sorbonne University; Pilar Moraga Sariego, Professor at Chile University; Jonas Ebbesson, Professor at Stockholm University; Francesco Francioni, European Institute of Florence; Neil Craik, Professor at Waterloo University and Leslie-Anne Duvic-Paoli, Professor at King’s College London.

The participants detailed the rights and duties inherent to a Global Pact for the Environment ie: the right to an ecologically sound environment, the duty to take care of the environment, the rights related to environment democracy (access to information, public participation and access to environmental justice), the precaution principle and the prevention principle.

PANEL 3: Guiding principles of public policy making

The third-round table gathered Virginie Barral, Professor at Hertfordshire University; Edith Brown Weiss, Professor at Georgetown University; Nicholas A. Robinson, Professor at Pace University; Michel Prieur, Professor at Limoges University.

The participants highlighted the Pact’s principles that would encourage States to develop environmental domestic laws and policy-making. The participants emphasized the principle of integration as a mean to achieve sustainable development goals, the principle of intergenerational equity, the principle of resilience and the non-regression principle.

PANEL 4: The Pact and non-state actors

The fourth-round-table gathered Patrick Thieffry, Professor at Panthéon-Sorbonne University; Sébastien Mabile, Member of the Paris Bar; Walter Kälin, Professor at Bern University and Hélène Soubelet, Director of the French Foundation for Biodiversity.

All participants recognized the fundamental role of non-state actors in international environmental law-making process. They also confirmed the support of the private sector and NGOs for the adoption of a Global Pact for the Environment. Hélène Soubelet, Director of the French Foundation for Biodiversity, brought a scientific perspective to the conference. She oulined the main outcomes of the 2019 IPBES Report and, in particular the fact that one million of species are threatened of extinction. In this perspective, Hélène Soubelet acknowledged the support of the scientific community for the adoption of a Global Pact for the Environment.

PANEL 5: Functions and implementation of the Pact

The fifth-round table gathered Makane Mbengue, Professor at Geneva University; Yann Kerbrat, Professor at Panthéon-Sorbonne University; Christina Voigt, Professor at Oslo University; Marie Jacobsson, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Sweden; Nilüfer Oral, Professor at Bilgi University Istanbul; Ginevra Le Moli, Professor at Cambridge University; Jorge E. Vinuales, Professor at Cambridge University; Jason Rudall, Professor at Leiden University and Luc Lavrysen, Judge of the Belgium Constitutional Court.

The participants emphasized the key contributions of a Global Pact for the Environment: reinforcement of international environmental law effectiveness, precious help for judges to review domestic cases, protection of the environment in case of armed conflicts and remediation of damages in case of environmental harm. The panelists also called for a new environmental governance with the adoption of new control mechanisms. Nilüfer Oral made a statement on the question of the protection of specific groups, ie: women, children and local communities such as indigenous people. She insisted on the fact that a Global Pact for the Environment should include these  groups and provide them with appropriate and operational rights.


The conference ended with the Sorbonne Call to Action for the adoption of a Global Pact for the Environment !