Human Rights And Environment

Implementing the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment should be a matter of the utmost urgency. - David R. Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment.

RWI at a Glance

Named after Raoul Wallenberg, a Swedish diplomat who saved thousands of people at risk in Europe during World War II, RWI is a charitable trust founded in 1984 and primarily funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency.

National human rights institutions (NHRIs), local governments, the business community, legal practitioners and environmental policy makers/groups are both focuses and partners for RWI’s programmes. These programmes promote respect for the environment and human rights based on international law in over 40 countries.

The Institute is based in Lund, Sweden, with field offices in Amman (Jordan), Beijing (China), Istanbul (Turkey), Jakarta (Indonesia), Nairobi (Kenya), and Phnom Penh (Cambodia).

Localizing Environment-related Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals

RWI recognises the important roles that local governments and other stakeholders have in protecting the environment and human rights, and in achieving the aim of United Nations Agenda 2030 or its sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Agenda 2030 includes the right to a healthy life with access to food, water, housing and livelihoods free from abuse in a sustainable environment. RWI also believes freedom of expression, freedom of association and human rights principles such as non-discrimination, participation, rule of law and accountability are important measures toward improving environmental sustainability.

In support of Agenda 2030, one of RWI’s goals is to have local governments considering human rights and a sustainable environment when making decisions about their communities and economies. This is being realised by increasing the availability of research products, teaching resources and general awareness material for the wider public and RWI’s partner organisations and networks.

Because human rights and environmental sustainability are connected, RWI is creating collective actions and integrated solutions that form synergies between the two in partnership with leading global, regional, national and local stakeholders.

RWI’s Regional Asia Pacific Programme

RWI’s Regional Asia Pacific Programme (RAPP) is contributing to sustainable development by mutually reinforcing protection of human rights and the environment. Our approach builds partnerships between diverse local stakeholders, to support much needed change and increased accountability.

RWI Activities 

Opening focused discussions borne from common points of interest and collaborations into achievable results, is a hallmark of RWI’s engagement with decision-makers and those that want to make a difference.

RWI’s activities include academic education, research, training, course development, producing training tools, establishing resource centres and advisory services.

The Institute initiates progress toward achieving SDGs through publications/journals, multi-stakeholder research, education and dialogue in multiple cities and regions across the Asia Pacific.


RWI’s recent activities and human rights approaches to protecting the environment under RAPP also include:

  • Publishing a thematic study on the Right to a Safe, Clean and Sustainable Environment: “Prosperous and green in the Anthropocene: The human right to a healthy environment in Southeast Asia. (2020)”.
  • Producing a dialogue series on human rights and the environment.
  • Establishing a ‘Blended Learning Course’ on the rights to a Safe, Clean and Sustainable Environment.
  • Convening and building a human rights perspective with stakeholders who work with national governments across the region on their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change.
  • Working with business stakeholders in Indonesia and Malaysia through the respective Business Councils for Sustainable Development (BCSD) to promote a better understanding of the nexus between human rights, the environment and profitable businesses.

RWI’s Positive Contributions 

There are billions of people living in poverty, many of whom lack access to clean water, adequate sanitation, electricity, safe housing or sufficient nutrition. RWI is creatively nurturing people-centred responses that support the important role of governments and community leadership to meet these challenges.

RWI’s approach contributes to partnerships between diverse local stakeholders in support of much needed change and increased accountability. RWI’s outcomes include increasingly aligning local, national and regional plans, regulations and policies related to the regional environment with international human rights standards.

The Institute’s commitment to human rights research and capacity development gives countries the means to realise international human rights standards and SDGs. RWI does not monitor compliance in the human rights field, or take on individual complaints regarding alleged violations. Rather, it promotes dialogue and engagement with decision-makers, communities, governments and regional bodies in their roles as change agents.