UWE Bristol Academic Spotlight: Professor Jona Razzaque

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Jona Razzaque

Jona Razzaque, is a Professor of Environmental Law at UWE Bristol, a barrister and holds a PhD in law from the University of London. Prior to joining UWE Bristol, she worked as a staff lawyer with the Foundation for International Environmental Law and Development (FIELD) and Environmental Law Foundation (ELF). She previously taught at the University College London, School of Oriental and African Studies and Queen Mary University of London. She has held visiting fellowships at Wuhan University, China. She is a member of the Advisory Board of the Journal of Environmental Law and serves as a member of the IUCN World Commission on Environmental Law.

Jona Razzaque’s research can be divided into four interconnected strands:

First, it extensively focuses on the global North-South divide that impedes the effectiveness of international environmental law. Her co-edited collection on International Environmental Law and the Global South examines both the historical origins of the North-South divide in European colonialism as well as its contemporary manifestations in a range of issues, including food justice, energy justice, indigenous rights, investment, extractive industries, human rights, land grabs, hazardous waste, and climate change. In addition, her research on environmental governance in Europe and Asia, toxic waste trade and access to remedies emphasises global inequality and the priorities and concerns of the global South.

Second, she has published extensively on the link between human rights and the environment, especially on the right to a healthy environment. Her focus is on participatory environmental rights dealing with access to environmental justice, environmental litigation,  public interest environmental litigation, public participation in environmental matters, free, prior informed consent, procedural environmental rights, public participation in water governance and participatory rights in natural resource management. Her research contributed to the UN Environment Programme and UNITAR initiatives on the link between human right and the environment.

Third, her work on biodiversity conservation focuses on ecosystem services and human well-being, transformative governance for biodiversity, nature protection law, environmental impact assessment, ancient woodlands, mangrove forest management, corporate responsibility and environmental harm, traditional knowledge, and rights of indigenous peoples. Her research resulted in her acting as a Coordinating Lead Author of the UN Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES, 2019) and she co-authored a high-impact paper on biodiversity conservation and transformative change (Science, 2019). She also acted as a consultant in the UN Environment Programme’s Expert Forum on Ecosystem Services and Human Well-being and contributed to projects on biodiversity conservation law funded by the UN Development Programme, DEFRA (UK) and Wuhan University (China).

Fourth, her work on the sustainable investment in natural resource sectors is strongly influenced by power imbalances that inform North–South cooperation, as well as South–South cooperation in the international investment regime. Her research focuses on investment and sustainability, resource sovereignty, commodification of water, renewable energy and agriculture. Her outputs contributed to the United Nations consultation on human rights and transnational corporations.

Business/sector interests:

Her work on the link between business, human rights and the environment highlights the legal framework applicable to transnational companies. She worked extensively with the United Nations Environment Programme as an expert on ‘Human Rights and the Environment’ and ‘Ecosystem Services and Human Well-being’ and acted as a consultant on participatory environmental rights.  Her research outputs on Business, Human Rights and the Environment resulted in her acting as an expert under the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General (SRSG), Professor John Ruggie,  on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises. In this function, she explored the role and limits of extraterritoriality in the business and human rights domain. She also acted as an expert to the European Commission funded project on the legal framework on human rights and the environment applicable to European enterprises operating outside the EU.

In addition, her work with global policy makers underscores the need to integrate biodiversity considerations in global decision making, whether it is on water, agriculture, infrastructure or business, and encourage alternative business models. For instance, she acted as a Contributing Lead Author of chapter 6: Options for decision makers of the Global Assessment on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (2019) initiated by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). The Summary for Policy Makers confirms that the sustainable use of nature will be vital to adapt and mitigate climate change, as well as to achieve many of our most important development goals.

Academic expertise/practically applied for a business partner

Her work on business, human rights and environment is relevant to the business sector as it examines the governance gaps with particular attention to the victims of corporate‐related human rights abuse, the weak regulatory regime of many host governments, companies that may face operational disruptions or lawsuits, and the home country whose own reputation may be at stake.

Her work on biodiversity conservation acknowledges that achieving a sustainable economy will require fundamental reforms to economic and financial systems. Her work with IPBES identifies a range of options and tools available to the business sector to improve the sustainability of economic and financial systems.

Her research on natural resources law, investment and sustainability offers aconcise insight into the relationship between the institutions that govern foreign investment, sustainable development and the rules and regulations that administer natural resources. Her focus is on various legal options to promote transparency, good governance and citizen empowerment which encourage positive social, economic and environmental outcomes for all stakeholders including the business sector.

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