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Full-day discussion on human rights and climate change

A full-day discussion on specific themes related to human rights and climate change was held on 6 March 2015 during the 28th session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) pursuant to resolution 26/27. Two panel discussions took place, the results of which are contained in A/HRC/29/19. The concept note for the panel discussions is available here.

Mandate

In its resolution 26/27 on human rights and climate change, the HRC decided to hold, during its twenty-eighth session, a full-day discussion of specific themes related to human rights and climate change on the basis of the different elements contained in the resolution. The resolution called for one panel discussion on identifying challenges and ways forward towards the realization of all human rights for all, including the right to development, in particular those in vulnerable situations, as well as the measures and best practices to promote and protect human rights that can be adopted by States in addressing the adverse effects of climate change on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights, and another panel discussion on how climate change has had an adverse impact on States’ efforts to progressively realize the right to food, and policies, lessons learned and good practices.

Background

The reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) unequivocally confirm that climate change is real and that human-made greenhouse gas emissions are its primary cause. These reports and other studies document the likely impact of climate change on the lives of millions of people around the world. The adverse impact of climate change includes an increasing frequency of extreme weather events and natural disasters, rising sea-levels, floods, heat waves, droughts, desertification, water shortages, and the spread of tropical and vector-borne diseases.

The HRC has long recognized that climate change has significant implications for the full enjoyment of human rights. In its resolution 7/23 on human rights and climate change, the Council expressed concern that climate change “poses an immediate and far-reaching threat to people and communities around the world” and requested OHCHR to prepare a study on the relationship between climate change and human rights. The Office submitted this study (A/HRC/10/61) to the tenth session of the Council held in March 2009. Since resolution 7/23, the HRC has regularly issued resolutions on human rights and climate change. These resolutions have affirmed that inter alia climate change-related impacts have a range of implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of human rights; the effects of climate change will be felt most acutely by those segments of the population who are already in a vulnerable situation; effective international cooperation to enable the full, effective and sustained implementation of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is critical to protect human rights from the negative impacts of climate change; and human rights obligations and commitments have the potential to inform and strengthen international and national policy-making in the area of climate change.

In resolution 26/27, the Council emphasized the need for all States to enhance international dialogue and cooperation to address the adverse impacts of climate change on the enjoyment of human rights including the right to development, particularly in developing countries. It called for dialogue, capacity-building, mobilization of financial resources, technology transfer, and other forms of cooperation to facilitate climate change adaptation and mitigation, including meeting the special needs and circumstances of developing countries. The resolution mandated a full-day panel discussion on human rights and climate change.

Objectives

Based on the request of the Human Rights Council, the full-day panel discussion aimed to:

(i) identify challenges posed by climate change to the realization of all human rights for all, including the right to development, in particular for those in vulnerable situations;
(ii) consider how climate change has had an adverse impact on States’ efforts progressively to realize the right to food and related policies, lessons learned and good practices;
(iii) identify ways forward, including measures and best practices to promote and protect human rights that can be adopted by States in addressing the adverse effects of climate change on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights.

Speakers and panelists

Morning (9 a.m. to 12 p.m.)

Challenges and ways forward towards the realization of human rights for all, including the right to development, in particular those in vulnerable situations, as well as measures and best practices to promote and protect human rights that can be adopted by States in addressing the adverse effects of climate change on the full and effective enjoyment of human rights

Chair:

  • H.E. Mr. Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council

Introduction:

Opening statement:

Panellists:

Moderator:

Afternoon (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.)

The adverse impacts of climate change on States’ efforts to progressively realize the right to food, and policies, lessons learned and good practices

Chair:

  • H.E. Mr. Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council

Video message by:

Panellists:

Moderator:

  • Mr. John Knox, Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment

Closing remarks:

  • Ms. Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice