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What’s the ecological toll of oil spills in Latin America?

GLF Live with Marcos Orellana, Daniel Caceres Bartra and Thaís Herrero

In the past decade, a number of oil spills triggered by humans and natural disasters both have changed the face of Latin America. Flooding healthy natural landscapes with tens of thousands of barrels of crude oil, these disasters leave already vulnerable ecosystems and people exponentially more so, with crippling damages and risks that strip communities of their livelihoods, health and natural resources and cause irreversible damage to biodiversity and nature.

What are the real long- and short-term consequences of oil spills? What are the best ways to mitigate their toxic impacts? How do we prevent them from happening in the first place? In this GLF Live, we brought together a Peruvian marine conservationist, a Brazilian journalist and a UN special rapporteur on toxics and human rights to discuss what should be done to lessen the ecological toll of oil spills in Latin America now and in the future.

Marcos A. Orellana is the UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights and an expert in international law and the law on human rights and the environment. He also teaches international environmental law at the George Washington University School of Law and international law at the American University Washington College of Law. His practice as legal advisor has included work with UN agencies, governments and non-governmental organizations, including on wastes and chemicals issues at the Basel and Minamata conventions, the UN Environment Assembly and the Human Rights Council. He has also served as senior legal advisor to the Presidency of the 25th Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. Dr. Orellana has extensive experience working with civil society on issues concerning global environmental justice. He was the inaugural director of the Environment and Human Rights Division at Human Rights Watch, directed the trade and human rights programs at the Center for International Environmental Law, and co-chaired the UN Environment Program’s civil society forum. He was a fellow at the University of Cambridge, visiting scholar with the Environmental Law Institute in Washington D.C., and instructor professor of international law at the Universidad de Talca, Chile.

Thaís Herrero is a Brazilian journalist. She received her degree in social communication from the University of São Paulo (USP), specialized in social and environmental communication and campaigns. She has worked for Época magazine and Greenpeace Brazil combining her skills as a reporter with campaign strategies and narratives. During her five years with Greenpeace, she was the communication leader for the ‘Climate and Justice’ and ‘Defend the Amazon Reef’ campaigns and the scriptwriter and host of the podcast “As Árvores Somos Nozes.” Today, Herrero is responsible for the communication sector of the Iepé – Instituto de Pesquisa e Formação Indígena. She also studies feminism and gender equality.

Daniel Cáceres Bartra is the young founder and leader of the Sustainable Ocean Alliance hub in Peru and co-founder of the Taking Care of the Ocean collective. Bartra has worked across many marine biodiversity and conservation projects, from working with humpback whales to registering new reefs in the North of Peru. He also has been a vocal voice for the Peruvian ocean in both national and international policy events, participating in the annual Our Ocean conference since 2016 and presenting at conferences in most Peruvian universities. Notably, Daniel has worked In Peru to influence its congress and political candidates to incorporate an ocean agenda into national policy. He organized the first ocean hearing and youth climate summit in Peru’s Congress. In 2015, Daniel was the youngest divemaster in Peru; in 2016 he won the national Hreljac Medal for being the youth with the biggest impact on national sustainable development; and in 2017 won the Agent of Change award from the scientific University of the South.  


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