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Meet the Grantee: María Valeria Berros

Innovations in Environmental Law: Rights of Nature, Climate Litigation and Protection of Environmental Defenders

Inspired by her great-uncle during her childhood, María Valeria Berros today works on improving regulations to combat the environmental crisis and advances the co-production of knowledge during her stay in Bayreuth.


If you had to explain the research project of your Short Term Grant to the person you metin the elevator, how would you describe it?

María Valeria Berros: My research topic relates to innovations in environmental law that are developing at the comparative level. Although my focus of analysis is Latin America, I have started to dialogue and work with colleagues from other countries, including my host Eva Lohse, to enrich the analysis on the application and functioning of climate litigation, the recognition of the rights of nature, the protection of biodiversity, and the co-production of knowledge. This last topic was central to my work at the University of Bayreuth thanks to the scholarship. The knowledge co-production is proposed as a research practice in climate and environmental case law studies to enhance participation in decision-making processes, to encourage contributions by groups often excluded in the process of gaining information, and to improve the sustainability of proposed solutions related to environmental conflicts.

Was there a special moment in your life that made you decide for your research focus?

MB: Since I was very young I have been challenged by environmental issues thanks to my great-uncle Edmundo. I also live in a region of the world where the wealth of natural resources coexists with many conflicts due to extractivism as well as with high levels of inequality. This is a particularly central and urgent issue for Argentina and the Latin American region in general. My research focuses on being able to contribute to improving regulations as well as the functioning of legal innovations that are in force and are mobilised around this issue.

What is in your opinion the future of your field? In what way can research in your fieldcontribute to meeting the urgent challenges of our time?

MB: It seems to me that the environmental crisis is one of the great issues of our time and, moreover, it puts our future on the planet at stake. With this urgent agenda, I believe it is essential that all disciplines focus on the issue and engage in dialogue with each other. At the same time, I consider it very important to strengthen spaces for the co-production of knowledge on environmental issues, recovering experiences, knowledge and perspectives. All these processes have translations into the field of law that are also central to me in order to strengthen environmental protection.

What does international research mobility in today's world mean to you?

MB: International mobility has been and will continue to be central to my research. As environmental and climate issues are global problems, comparative work and dialogue with colleagues from different latitudes who have a common focus of analysis is essential. This not only enriches the studies, but also contributes to generating modifications, enabling new ideas and valuing developments in the legal protection of the environment in different legal systems.

What was your personal experience during your stay?

MB: My experience at the University of Bayreuth was very enriching academically and personally. I was able to work together with my co-host in a very fruitful way, to attend a conference directly related to the topic of our research, and to get to know his staff. I was also able to exchange with their doctoral and post-doctoral students during my stay. I really liked the way the university works, the permanent and friendly support and care of the Humboldt Centre as well as the university life and the campus. 

The Grantee

Dr. María Valeria Berros is a Lawyer and Doctor in Law from the Universidad Nacional del Litoral (UNL). Adjunct Researcher at the Consejo de Investigaciones Científicas y Técnicas (CONICET). Former Fellow of the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society at the University of Munich (Germany). Visiting Professor/Researcher of the University of Buenos Aires, the Université de Limoges, the Université de Paris and the Université de Nantes (France), the University of Piemonte Oriental (Italy), the Federal University of Santa Catarina (Brazil) and the University of the Republic (Uruguay). Director of the Research Project "Meulen II. Deepening of juridical contributions on the ecological problem in Latin American key" of the UNL.  Principal Investigator of the research group in the Universidad Nacional del Litoral in the context of the  project Speak4Nature: Interdisciplinary approaches on ecological justice (Horizon Europe - Research and innovation programme MSCA Staff Exchanges, grant agreement No. 101086202).

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