The Scientific Café initiative consists of short interviews with experts and practitioners on various questions linked to human rights.

In the Scientific Café, experts and practitioners from various fields are invited to discuss questions linked to human rights. The theme for the currently ongoing 2024 edition is Migration and Businesses: Safeguarding Human Rights Amidst the Climate Crisis. The guests of the Scientific Café will share from their unique experiences and consider the following questions:

  • What are the major determinants of vulnerability to climate change for migrants and how can business activities impact it?
  • How are States due to protect human rights and labor rights for migrants and their families? What are some common barriers?
  • What are the responsibilities of businesses regarding climate-related risks for the rights of their workers and the communities they impact?
  • What are the standards and best practices for businesses in terms of self-reporting, self-assessment, and data gathering? To what extent are migrants (including refugees and IDPs) accounted for?
  • How can migrants be better included in climate action and adaptation?
  • What is your view on the current global policy agenda for migration and business and human rights?

Migrants, including refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) are highly impacted and vulnerable to climate change and environmental degradation, while forecasts predict 25 million to 1 billion environmental migrants by 2050. For businesses, the responsibility to respect and aid the fulfilment of the rights of migrants has to be approached within the current climate situation. Businesses hold a key role in mitigating climate change and preserving the environment.

In 2023 interviewees discussed questions related to Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen; in 2022  related to Promoting women’s role in peace building. All episodes below.

Scientific Café – Episode 22. Interview with Ms Adriana Quinones (2024) “Migration and Businesses: Safeguarding Human Rights Amidst the Climate Crisis

Ms Adriana Quiñones is the Head of Human Rights and Development and Deputy Head of UN Women Geneva Office. She leads UN Women´s work at the Human Rights Council and all high-level actions in trade, labor, climate and other development topics. She has supported the creation of youth development programs, access to trade and credit for the benefit of indigenous and afro-descendant women, as well as programs to combat stigma and discrimination. She advised the High Commissioner for Peace in Colombia on issues of human rights violations in the context of the internal armed conflict and to address the needs of the displaced populations.

Scientific Café – Episode 21. Interview with Mr Sean O’Connell (2024) “Migration and Businesses: Safeguarding Human Rights Amidst the Climate Crisis

Mr Seán O’Connell is Global Focal Point on Environmental Justice with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), working on corporate respect for human rights and environmental protection. Before joining UNDP Global Team, Seán worked with UNDP Country Offices in South East Asia on human rights, rule of law, access to justice and responsible business practice. Seán was previously human rights officer for Ireland’s first National Action Plan on Business and Human Rights with the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland.

Scientific Café – Episode 20. Interview with Mr Neill Wilkins (2024) “Migration and Businesses: Safeguarding Human Rights Amidst the Climate Crisis

Mr Neill Wilkins specializes in the human rights challenges faced by migrant workers and the companies that recruit and employ them. He has undertaken a number of initiatives with the apparel, construction, and hospitality sectors and the international employment industry to promote responsible recruitment. Neill also helped oversee the development of the Dhaka Principles for Migration with Dignity, a key framework for responsible business practice relating to migrant workers.  

Scientific Café – Episode 19. Interview with Ms Christine Adam (2024) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Ms Christine Adam is Director and Principal Legal Advisor at the UNFCCC secretariat in Bonn. As such, she oversees the provision of substantive and procedural legal advice to the UNFCCC process, including the annual climate change conference. COP is the biggest annual UN conference. Prior to joining the UNFCCC secretariat, Christine worked for the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Bern, Helsinki and finally Geneva, where she was the Deputy Director of the Department of the Legal Affairs. Christine started her career working for the German public administration, which included an assignment at the German Embassy in Lima.  In her 25 years of career as an international lawyer, Christine has covered all areas of legal work relevant to the functioning of a UN legal office.  

Scientific Café – Episode 18. Interview with Mr Jevanic Henry (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Mr Jevanic Henry is a climate change and development professional with experience leading and supporting the development of environmental projects at multi-levels. At the national and regional level, he previously served as Foreign Service Officer with the Government of Saint Lucia and Climate Change Special Envoy for the Caribbean Youth Environment Network (CYEN). His multilateral experience has involved working with various agencies, including through the United Nations Foundation as a Next Generation Fellow, providing recommendations towards the UN Secretary General’s Common Agenda report designed to accelerate achievement of the SDGs. In March 2023, Jevanic was appointed as the first Caribbean representative to the UN Secretary-General’s Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, tasked with providing concrete recommendation for accelerating implementation of the UN SG’s climate action agenda. Jevanic is currently an Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) Fellow assigned to the Permanent Mission of Saint Lucia to the United Nations in New York.

Scientific Café – Episode 17. Interview with Ms Rewa Assi (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Ms Rewa Assi is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Water and Sustainable Development at IHE Delft. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural Engineering from the American University of Beirut (AUB). Her research interests primarily revolve around exploring innovative approaches and solutions within the water-energy-food nexus. Rewa’s experience includes the coordination of the Water Innovation Lab with Waterlution. Under her coordination, over 200 young global leaders were trained, and 30 teams were supported to develop their innovative water solutions. Rewa currently serves as the Chair of the Early Career and Young Professionals Task Force within the International Water Resources Association (IWRA). Her role highlights promoting the engagement of water young professionals in the sector. In addition, Rewa holds the position of Youth Delegate with UNICEF MENA, where she represents the youth perspective within the water sector at various international high-level conferences.

Scientific Café – Episode 16. Interview with Ms Lucy Ntongai (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Ms Lucy Ntongai, Project Coordinator – Gender Responsive Alternatives to Climate Change, ActionAid International Kenya. She is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) with 8 years of Project Management experience in INGOs. A strong believer that the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) within a generation is possible through professionalism and integrity in development and program Management led by affected communities. She has a remarkable hands-on experience and competencies in rights-based approaches to give voice to communities on the frontline of the climate crisis. She has an in-depth understanding of intersectionality’s of climate change, human rights, and participatory people-centered approaches to advance inclusive sustainable development. Areas of knowledge include practical climate resilient sustainable agriculture (agroecology), climate, energy, policy, programs, peace, humanitarian-development nexus, and women-led protection approaches through a human rights-based approach.

Scientific Café – Episode 15. Interview with Dr Matthew Scott (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Dr Matthew Scott is a senior researcher and leader of the Human Rights and the Environment thematic area at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. His work focuses on integrating social science perspectives with international legal standards to promote context-sensitive, human rights-based law, policy and practice relating to disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. His primary area of expertise concerns migration and displacement in the context of disasters and climate change, on which he has published a monograph entitled Climate Change, Disasters and the Refugee Convention (CUP 2020), an edited volume entitled Climate Change, Disasters and Internal Displacement in Asia and the Pacific: A Human Rights-Based Approach (Routledge 2021) and a range of book chapters and academic articles. Current research interests concern the role of local authorities in addressing climate- and disaster-related migration and displacement.

Scientific Café – Episode 14. Interview with Ms Shaila Seshia Galvin (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Ms Shaila Seshia Galvin is a sociocultural anthropologist whose research examines intersecting processes of agrarian and environmental change. Her abiding interests in this intersection have led her to focus particularly on how emerging practices of sustainability—from organic agriculture to climate change mitigation—become bureaucratized and standardized, and with what implications for human-environment relations more broadly. Her book Becoming Organic: Nature and Agriculture in the Indian Himalaya (Yale University Press, 2021) explores how the rise of commercial organic agriculture, and along with it, third-party certification, standardisation and contract farming, reshapes the relations of nature and agriculture, state bureaucracies and agricultural markets, farmers and agrarian intermediaries, in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand.

Shaila Seshia Galvin received her PhD from Yale University in Anthropology and Environmental Studies, and also holds an MPhil in Development Studies from the Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex.

Scientific Café – Episode 13. Interview with Prof Melodena Stephens (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Prof Melodena Stephens is the Professor of Innovation Management at the Mohammed Bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) in Dubai, UAE. She has three decades of global experience (India, the USA, Taiwan, the UAE, and Germany), where she has held various leadership roles in both the private and academic sector. Melodena’s expertise is strategy in areas like agile government, innovation, brand building, and crisis management. She is a prolific author and her most recent books are Agile GovernmentAI Smart Kit and Business With Purpose. She is the founder of the Academy of International Business – the Middle East North Africa Chapter, which has published teaching and research cases on the region preserving organisational memories. She is on several AI ethics committees in IEEE SA and on the Agile Nations metaverse governance task force.

Scientific Café – Episode 12. Interview with Dr Denis Ruysschaert (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Dr Denis Ruysschaert is working as the faculty lead on environment and sustainability at the Graduate Institute. Denis holds two complementary academic background: sociologist (Master and PhD in sociology) and scientist (Master in agronomy). Denis has worked on four continents from a wide range of perspectives : local communities/indigenous peoples, development NGOs, transnational corporations, the United Nations environment programme and academics. His researches focus on the gap between global commitment and field implementation on some dire environmental issues such  as biodiversity loss, climate change and social equity.
His researches are published in journals pertaining to sociology and environmental economics. He is the author of “UNEP and civil society: Natural Allies” (UNEP, 2004).

Scientific Café – Episode 11. Interview with Ms Anne Saab (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Ms Anne Saab joined the Graduate Institute as an Assistant Professor in International Law in 2015. She was promoted to Associate Professor in 2021 and has been serving as Co-Director of the LL.M. in International Law programme since 2018. Anne obtained a PhD in International Law from the London School of Economics in 2015, an LL.M. from King’s College London in 2009, and an LLB from Leiden University in 2008. Her areas of interest and expertise include food and agriculture, climate change, intellectual property law and more recently, emotions and international law. Her first monograph entitled, Narratives of Hunger in International Law: Feeding the World in Times of Climate Change, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2019. Prior to entering academia, Anne worked as a legal advisor and policy officer at the Ministry of Agriculture and Economic Affairs and at the Foreign Office in The Hague.

Scientific Café – Episode 10. Interview with Ms Caroline Mair-Toby (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Ms Caroline Mair-Toby is a lawyer and international environmental justice specialist with over 15 years of experience and research working with public, private and civil society stakeholders, specialising in climate change, climate diplomacy, climate justice, public international environmental and business and human rights law. She has 20 years research experience on Caribbean, African, Indian subcontinent and Pacific Island colonialism, empire, and postcolonial relations, and 5 years’ experience on Indigenous and Indigenous Maroons Peoples’ rights in biodiversity and climate/environmental justice. She has published and spoken widely on these issues. Caroline is currently the Founder and Director of the Institute for Small Islands; an Executive Director at SHE Changes Climate, an international NGO focused on increasing female representation at all levels of climate decision; and an Associate Attorney at Mair and Company, a Caribbean law firm, and a Director at the Fondes Amandes Reforestation Project. She has been a lawyer and liaison officer with various NGOs at the United Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) since 2011, advising and facilitating legal and technical advice to Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and Least Developed Countries (LDCs) at the climate negotiations. She was most recently a delegate at UNFCCC COP26 Glasgow, Scotland as a member of team of lawyers attending the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) COP26 with London-based Legal Response International (LRI), and a delegate for the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago at UNFCCC COP27 Egypt 2022.

Scientific Café – Episode 9. Interview with Dr Robin Bronen, Alaska Institute for Justice (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Dr Robin Bronen serves as Executive Director and is the co-founder of the Alaska Institute for Justice, a non-profit agency which is located on Dena’ina lands and in Anchorage, Alaska.  AIJ’s mission is to protect the human rights of all Alaskans and houses three programs: 1) climate justice adaptation and policy program; 2) immigration legal services program; and 3) language interpreter center which trains bilingual Alaskans to work as professional interpreters in the medical, legal and social services.  Permafrost Pathways is a new climate justice initiative funded through the TED Audacious project and provides funding for Alaska Native Tribes to hire tribal government staff to work on the climate adaptation issues prioritized by the Tribe.  AIJ’s climate justice focus is to protect and promote tribal sovereignty, protect and promote human and Earth rights and ensure equity and justice are embedded in our work to remove the policy barriers preventing Tribes from accessing the resources and technical assistance they need.

Scientific Café – Episode 8. Interview with Dr Megan Donald, legal researcher (2023) “Right to a Healthy Environment: Significance for the Ordinary Citizen.”

Dr Megan Donald is a legal researcher in the field of human rights and the environment. Her areas of expertise include: economic, social and cultural rights; the relationship between human rights and the environment; the right to a healthy environment; environmental law; and the interpretation of human rights. Megan is currently working as a consultant for the UN Independent Expert on the Rights of Older Persons. She also works as a consultant providing research and support for the Drafting Group of the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights for the development of a general comment on sustainable development and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Megan recently worked as an Associate Research Fellow at the Geneva Academy conducting research on human rights and the environment. She is also a part-time lecturer in environmental law at Stellenbosch University.

Scientific Café – Episode 7. Interview with Caryn Dasah, Cameroon Women’s Peace Movement (CAWOPEM) (2022) “Promoting Women’s Role in Peacebuilding” 

Caryn Dasah is a Social Justice Activist, Youth Leader, and the General Coordinator at Cameroon Women’s Peace Movement. She has frontline experience in implementing campaigns and advocacy initiatives advancing women’s rights, gender equality, and ending violence against women and girls. She is a Global Beijing 25 Youth Task Force Member with thirteen years of experience volunteering in Rural communities. Caryn has created a peace campaign called the “Her Place Project’ aimed at engaging grassroots women as peace builders. Caryn runs the “Healing Invisible wounds Project” providing psycho-social support to survivors of violence in armed conflict through trauma healing sessions. She is dedicated working towards ensuring young women in Cameroon find their place within the peace process in Cameroon.

Scientific Café – Episode 6. Interview with Shekeba Ahmadi, CMI-Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation (2022) “Promoting Women’s Role in Peacebuilding”

Shekeba Ahmadi is a women’s rights advocate, currently working with Women in Peacemaking team at the CMI-Martti Ahtisaari Peace Foundation. She has contributed to the work of not-to-profit organizations in Singapore, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Afghanistan for the last 6 years. Ms. Ahmadi’s previous role at Embassy of Finland in Kabul was Development Cooperation Advisor. She is an aspiring leader in peace and conflict resolution field. In episode 6 of the Geneva Centre’s Scientific Café initiative Shekeba Ahmadi shares her experience of enhancing women’s role in peacebuilding.

Scientific Café – Episode 5. Interview with Dr. Racquel Warner (2022) “Promoting Women’s Role in Peacebuilding”

Since 2003, Dr. Racquel Warner has worked in various academic and leadership positions at three major off-shore branch campuses in the UAE. A career educator with over 25 years international teaching experience, her professional engagement has been defined by her keen interest in social justice and equality. In her home country of Jamaica, she has initiated inner city community engagement projects that connected benevolent business owners with families who needed educational assistance. She also works actively in communities in Nepal, Bangladesh, and Kenya to support the development and accessibility of quality education to at risk groups.

Scientific Café – Episode 4. COVID-19 and the Right to Information – Interview with Professor Biagio Andò, University of Catania (2022)

Scientific Café – Episode 3. COVID-19 and the Right to Information – Interview with Professor María José Bravo Bosch

Scientific Café – Episode 2. COVID-19 and the Right to Information – Interview with Professor Orazio Licciardello

Scientific Café – Episode 1. COVID-19 and the Right to Information –  Interview with Professor Pedroni