Juliana Santilli

Former environmental lawyer and public prosecutor in Brazil.  Specialized in Environment and Cultural Heritage Law, developing the legal foundations for agrobiodiversity. Former researcher at the University of Brasília, Center for Sustainable Development; co-founder of the Brazilian civil society organization Instituto Socioambiental. Author of “Agrobiodiversity and the Law”. Ms. Santilli sadly passed away in 2015.

Juliana Santilli’s work has contributed enormously to the emergence of the socioenvironmentalism in Brazil, a movement which shaped the 1988 Constitution and recognized the rights of indigenous and traditional peoples in the country, tied to their territories and cultures. One of the specific fields of socioenvironmentalism she worked most with was agrobiodiversity, later recognized by the Convention of Biological Diversity as strategic to conservation and traditional knowledge.

When socioenvironmentalism was still a collection of avant-garde ideas with great power of mobilization in the post-dictatorial period in Brazil, but still little consolidated, Juliana’s work formed it and established it as a new field. Her effort to research, compile information, analyse, and reflect on the theme, explicit in the book “Socioenvironmentalism and New Rights,” made a huge difference in the intellectual scene, mostly because at its heart was a commitment to the knowledge of indigenous peoples and traditional communities.

In the case of agricultural biodiversity, such commitment was even more explicit. Agrobiodiversity entails traditional practices that ensure the maintenance of agricultural diversity. Juliana performed a robust intellectual and legal analysis with traditional knowledge holders about their needs, knowledge and practices. The result can be seen in her book “Agrobiodiversity and the Law.”