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Human Rights Council holds discussion on the adverse impacts of climate change on States' efforts to realize the right to food

Human Rights Council
AFTERNOON

6 March 2015 

Concludes Annual Full-Day Discussion on Human Rights and Climate Change

The Human Rights Council this afternoon concluded its annual full-day discussion on human rights and climate change after holding a discussion on the adverse impacts of climate change on States’ efforts progressively to realize the right to food, and policies, lessons learned and good practices. 

Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council, said they would focus the afternoon meeting on the adverse impacts of climate change on States’ efforts progressively to realize the right to food, and policies, lessons learned and good practices. 

In a video message, Hilal Enver, Special Rapporteur on the right to food, emphasized the complicated link between food security and climate change.  She said climate change mitigation and adaptation policies further reduced food availability: bio-fuel as a clean energy alternative and clean development mechanisms like forest preservation shifted land use from agriculture, threatening the right to food.  Clean fuel for cars in the West meant less food in Africa and South Asia. 

John Knox, Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and panel moderator, said that the notion that climate change constituted a huge threat to human rights was now accepted, which meant that now was the time for action.

The panellists were Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu; Renan B. Dalisay, Administrator of the National Food Authority of the Philippines; Xiangjun Yao, Director, Geneva Office, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations; Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches; Elizabeth Mpofu, General  Coordinator of La Via Campesina; and Ana-Maria Suarez Franco, Permanent Representative in Geneva of the Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) International.

Enele Sosene Sopoaga, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, said that there was a strong consensus on the need for action.  Climate change impacted food security.  It was important to adopt human rights-focused actions in a cooperative manner, and ensure their concrete impact on the ground. 

Renan B. Dalisay, Administrator of the National Food Authority of the Philippines, stated that that climate change in Asia and the Pacific meant seeing a significant rise in sea-levels and high water temperatures affecting the marine ecosystems, extreme heat waves and large areas of land plagued by drought, followed a few months later by extremely heavy precipitation and tropical cyclones of increasing intensity and frequency.

Xiangjun Yao, Director, Geneva Office, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, recalled that the realization of the right to adequate food was directly or indirectly affected by climate change.  Due to the adverse impacts of climate change, livelihoods were endangered, natural resources for agriculture production were reduced and degraded, physical access to food was hampered, and food prices increased and were volatile.

Olav Fykse Tveit, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, stressed the importance of seeing climate change in the perspective of universal human rights and of being sensitive to what the most vulnerable communities were experiencing.  Climate change was already affecting the right to food in vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific, as well as in countries close to the Arctic.

Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, said she represented over 200 million marginalized people – fisher folks around the world, and she was a practical woman farmer from Zimbabwe.  She had witnessed how climate change affected all rights, including the right to life, food, health, housing, self-determination, development, safe drinking water, and sanitation. 

Ana-Maria Suarez Franco, Permanent Representative in Geneva of the Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) International, said that FIAN supported any efforts to generate connections that reduced fragmentation between different aspects of human rights, that ensured the primacy of human rights, and that contributed to a decrease of hunger and malnutrition. 

In the ensuing discussion, speakers expressed concerns about climate change as a global threat to the enjoyment of all human rights, and especially the right to food.  They agreed on the need to mainstream climate change issues in all human rights issues.  The urgency to help vulnerable communities respond to the impacts of climate change was underlined.  It was agreed that developing countries, and in particular small island developing States, were the hardest hit by climate change.  In this respect, it was agreed that there was a need for funding to help them to adapt to climate change challenges.  Developed nations bore a historical responsibility for greenhouse gas emissions which were the cause of climate change.  Their higher responsibility, vis-à-vis that of developing countries, had to be taken into account.  In this respect, the human right to development of  developing countries had to be respected when greenhouse gas emission targets were discussed.  There was a need to synergize an effective response to climate change as it was a cross sectorial, international problem and one that affected all human rights.  Finally there was a strong call for a legally binding agreement to come out of the upcoming Paris Conference. 

Speaking were the European Union, Bolivia, Maldives, Brazil, Egypt, Uruguay, Algeria, Fiji, Slovenia, Cuba, South Africa, Nigeria, Sudan, Gabon, China, Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Portugal, Ireland and Peru.  The United Nations Environment Programme and the International Organization for Migration also took the floor.

International Development Law Organization, Action Canada for Population and Development, and Sexual Rights Initiative also spoke.

The Council will next meet on Monday, 9 March at 9 a.m. to hold interactive dialogues with the Independent Expert on human rights and the environment and the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights.  The President said that also on Monday, International Women’s Day would be observed with a statement by the Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Opening Statements

JOACHIM RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, said they would now continue their full-day discussion on human rights and climate change, focusing on the adverse impacts of climate change on States’ efforts progressively to realize the right to food, and policies, lessons learned and good practices. 

HILAL ENVER, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, in a video message, emphasized the complicated link between food security and climate change.  First of all, modern agriculture was unsustainable as fossil fuel and chemical intensive food systems had a profound impact on natural resources.  Secondly, while modern agriculture was producing more food than the world needed, almost 1 billion persons were still chronically hungry and another 1 billion were malnourished.  Thirdly, climate change mitigation and adaptation policies were not respectful to human rights.  Those mechanisms further reduced food availability: bio-fuel as a clean energy alternative and clean development mechanisms like forest preservation shifted land use from agriculture, threatening the right to food.  Clean fuel for cars in the West meant less food in Africa and South Asia.  Until very recently climate change policies were not focusing on either food security and agriculture or human rights principles.  Alternative to industrial agriculture, women’s and indigenous people’s knowledge of biodiversity and agro-ecology helped to mitigate climate change, and built resilience to adapt it.  Small-scale farmers should be the cornerstone of any global strategy to address climate change and hunger.

Statements by the Moderator and Panellists

JOHN KNOX, Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and panel moderator, said that the notion that climate change constituted a huge threat to human rights was now accepted, which meant that now was the time for action.  He underlined the importance of focusing on specific rights.  In that regard, no right was more threatened by climate change than the right to food.  

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, referred to the serious situation on the ground in countries that were most vulnerable to climate change.  There was a strong consensus on the need for action.  Climate change impacted food security.  It was important to adopt human rights-focused actions in a cooperative manner, and ensure their concrete impact on the ground.  Unless the climate change issue was dealt with, the lives of individuals living in vulnerable countries would remain threatened.  Response to climate change also had to address the issue of displacement.  It was important to keep in mind the necessity for concerned people to keep the ability to enjoy their own traditional way of life.  It was also important to take into account the principle of sovereignty and of continuity of States.  The Prime Minister welcomed that work had already been done, including by Care International, on the issue.  It was critical that a legally binding international instrument on climate change be adopted in Paris later this year.  The Human Rights Council should be mandated to prepare a report on human rights and climate change, and develop a binding instrument on this issue, addressing also the issue of displacement and climate refugees.  A special session of the Council on this issue was warranted and timely.  Finally, the Prime Minister regretted the lack of visibility of the United Nations on the ground in those countries that were the most affected by climate change. 

RENAN B. DALISAY, Administrator of the National Food Authority of the Philippines, said that climate change in Asia and the Pacific meant seeing a significant rise in sea-levels and high water temperature affecting the marine ecosystems, extreme heat waves and large areas of land plagued by drought, but followed a few months later by extremely heavy precipitation and tropical cyclones of increasing intensity and frequency.  The world had witnessed how super Typhoon Haiyan, the strongest ever typhoon to hit land, had struck the Philippines in 2013 and decimated cities in its wake.  The Filipino people were a resilient lot that contended with 20 to 25 typhoons on a yearly basis.  But the ferocity with which typhoons had hit the Philippines in the past five years had simply been staggering.  Typhoon Haiyan (or Yolanda as it was locally called) had a storm surge with winds and waves so violent that entire coastal villages had been flattened.  It had washed huge steel ships ashore as if they had been made of paper.  It had left a path of death and destruction rarely seen even in the Philippines, and its impact was felt to this day, by the land it battered, and by the thousands of Filipinos who lost sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, and friends to nature’s unforgiving, unsentimental fury.  Yolanda was just one of the staggeringly powerful storms to pummel the Philippines in recent years.  Luzon, the biggest land mass in the north of the country, had seen its rice fields completely inundated by floods when Typhoon Parma, locally known as Pepeng, stayed inland for almost a week in October 2009.  On the other hand, Mindanao in the south, which was highly regarded as the country's food basket for pineapple, banana, and coconut plantations, had seen its major cities ravaged by typhoon Bopha (Pablo) in December 2012.  Mr. Dalisay called on stakeholders to understand the problem, implement solutions, and seek common grounds for cooperation.

XIANGJUN YAO, Director of the Geneva Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said that the realization of the right to adequate food was directly or indirectly affected by climate change.  Due to the adverse impacts of climate change, livelihoods were endangered, natural resources for agriculture production were reduced and degraded, physical access to food was hampered, while food prices increased and were volatile time after  time.  Some lessons and previous innovative practices could help in addressing those adversities, such as countries’ experience in achieving the hunger target of the Millennium Development Goals.  In that respect, four key areas of intervention should be prioritized: emphasis on nutrition and education; social protection; equitable access to resources and assets; and awareness-raising.  Moreover, it was important to strengthen comprehensive, nationally owned and context-sensitive social protection systems that embraced a “twin-track” strategy that would impact food and nutrition security, as well as resilience.  Those included the provision of adequate essential assistance; fostering of integrated programmes to directly support livelihoods and productivity, particularly smallholder farmers and small-scale food producers; establishment of strong linkages between education, health and agriculture in order to ensure decent employment and social welfare; and enhancement of the access of men and women to markets and financial services.

OLAV FYKSE TVEIT, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, stressed the importance of seeing climate change in the perspective of universal human rights and of being sensitive to what the most vulnerable communities were experiencing.  Climate change was already affecting the right to food in vulnerable countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Pacific, as well as in countries close to the Arctic: rise of sea level and salinization of fresh water, increase in frequency and intensity of tropical storms, change in rainfall patterns, droughts and floods, and changing temperatures which had direct impact on their food security and sovereignty.  He called for the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on climate change and human rights.  Such a Special Procedure would significantly enhance the enjoyment of human rights by the most vulnerable populations who were affected by climate related hazards.  Various religious leaders over the decades had called for action on climate change.  The World Council of Churches had been addressing specifically climate change since the late 1980s, linking it to the environment, economic justice and peace issues.  Climate change also had ethical and spiritual dimensions.  Individual change was not enough.  The change should be at the community and national levels.  But the international legal framework was also of utmost importance.  Strengthening the cooperation between the international community, the Human Rights Council, civil society and faith based organizations in responding to one of the biggest threats of the world was necessary. 

ELIZABETH MPOFU, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina said she represented over 200 million marginalized people – fisher folks around the world, and she was a practical woman farmer from Zimbabwe.  She had witnessed how climate change affected all rights, including the right to life, food, health, housing, self-determination, development, safe drinking water, and sanitation.  This was particularly true in developing countries, especially on the continent of Africa.  The realization of human rights was marketed and commoditized by corporates instead of governments.  These were the new providers and guarantors, through the markets.  It was known that corporates polluted the air through greenhouse gas emissions.  They practiced land grabbing, excessive exploitation of mineral resources, overuse of energy, and destruction of nature.  The realization of human rights had been deterred in various ways, as developed countries had placed a very big burden on developing countries in their first attempt to solve the climate crisis.  These developed countries influenced and shifted policies which were not favourable to developing countries such as foreign investment conditions, and the grabbing of public services including health,  education and others.  They carried out land grabs for agro-fuels or green fuels meant to replace fossil fuels.  A huge number of fisher folks were being moved away from their fertile lands to give way to these corporates for their land grabs.  Was this the justice the world was talking about?  Forests had been taken away from indigenous peoples.  The indigenous peoples who relied on forests for diversified foods, were now being affected nutritionally.  States continually revised their policies and shifted financial and human resources from crucial public service such as health and education, to confront the new climate change challenges,

ANA-MARIA SUÁREZ FRANCO, Permanent Representative of Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) International in Geneva, said that FIAN supported any efforts to generate connections that reduced fragmentation between different aspects of human rights, that ensured the primacy of human rights, and that contributed to a decreased of hunger and malnutrition.  On the one hand certain States were striving to secure the right to food and nutrition, while on the other hand the impact of climate change undermined those efforts.   Droughts, floods, water shortage, tropical diseases, insect infestations, and pollution of the seas affected the right to food.  The securing of the right to food was an international problem.  However, it did not mean that States should not devise their own national policies and actions.  States had to realize that their failure to act on climate change would endanger food security.  It was also important to consider the actions of non-state actors in that respect, such as the legal responsibility of multinational companies.  Small-scale agricultural production needed to be protected and encouraged.  The production of fossil fuels had a negative effect on climate change, and thus also on the right to food and nutrition.  FIAN urged the Council to create the position of a Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change.

Discussion

European Union said that enhanced cooperation between Special Procedures and other United Nations agencies was important for addressing the challenges raised by climate change.  Women were particularly affected by climate change, and had an important role to play in addressing it.   Bolivia expressed concerns about the worsening food crisis, and said that it was working actively to promote food sovereignty, including by promoting quinoa.  Despites efforts, climate change had to be tackled by all at the international level, with respect to the principle of shared responsibility.  Maldives said it suffered greatly from climate change, and that its economy and agriculture were dangerously impacted.  Maldives now relied more and more on imports to feed its population.  Brazil said that challenges presented by climate change should be seen as an opportunity for the creation of new technologies that could help solving the problem of food security.  Egypt said the impact of climate change had to be dealt with at the international level and in a holistic manner, without politicization or selectivity.  Egypt underlined the additional responsibility of those countries that were responsible for climate change.  Uruguay welcomed that debates on climate change had expanded in range and were now focusing on other issues, such as its impact on human rights.  Uruguay highlighted that agriculture was a key sector of its economy, and said that adapting its approach to prevent too much impact was key. 

United Nations Environment Programme stated that as multiple resolutions in this Council and other fora had affirmed, climate change would have very serious impacts on human rights.  It highlighted the importance of integrating the efforts of the Human Rights Council with other organizations, to address climate change and vice versa.  Algeria stated that climate change was a direct challenge to the enjoyment of human rights.  The global response had to be based on dialogue, solidarity and cooperation.  The combination of human rights and environmental demands in the post-2015 development agenda would allow a better response to challenges imposed by climate change.  Fiji stated that the right to food was immediately impacted as climate change shifted communities to locations no longer habitable due to groundwater contamination of arable land and increasing consequences of disaster.  The very sovereignty of Fiji was affected by territorial diminishment.  Concrete action was needed.  Slovenia fully supported the adoption of a new legally-binding instrument in Paris later in the year.  This agreement should enable countries to keep the average global temperature rise under 2 Degrees Celsius in comparison with pre-industrial levels.   Cuba stated that climate change consequences for the environment, namely soil salinity, floods and droughts, had a direct impact on agricultural production and the ability of individuals to purchase the food they needed.  The world needed to change to more sustainable systems of production and sustainable patterns of food consumption.  South Africa stated that developing countries as the most affected States carried the burden of responding to climate change through mitigation actions.  During the upcoming Paris conference, more had to be demanded from the developed countries in accordance with common but differentiated responsibilities.  Developing countries could not come out with human rights obligations that would further constrain them in their quest to fulfil socio-economic rights.  This would be unjust.

Action Canada for Population and Development, in collaboration with Sexual Rights Initiative, emphasized the indivisibility of sexual rights from the ongoing discussions.  Universal access to reproductive health, family planning and sexual health was needed and should be incorporated into national strategies and programmes.  All human rights, including sexual and reproductive rights, would be adversely impacted unless action was taken to mitigate the human impact of climate change. 

ANA-MARIA SUÁREZ FRANCO, Permanent Representative of Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN) International in Geneva, responded to the questions raised by the European Union and Slovenia on practices that would improve food quality, reduce pollution and enhance responses to climate change and their impact on the enjoyment of human rights.  Mitigation measures for victims whose enjoyment of the right to food was threatened should allow the possibility for the victims to claim violations.  States should introduce binding regulations for private actors that threatened the right to nutrition and other human rights in the context of climate change.  States should also ensure the participation of those most affected and vulnerable when defining their policies.  They should ensure that their decisions at the national and international levels were consistent with their human rights obligations

ELIZABETH MPOFU, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, responding to questions from the floor proposed several solutions.  As the corporate world abrogated human rights, it needed to be regulated.  There was a need to change the current regulation system because the corporate profit driven model did not work,  and was in fact creating more challenges.  There was also a need to support the rights of peasants.  People-oriented policies were necessary at all levels: local, regional, national and global.  There was a need to adopt food sovereignty by States and to empower people to fully enjoy their human rights.  Food sovereignty would regulate the corporate world and it would regulate climate change.

OLAV FYKSE TVEIT, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, encouraged strengthened international cooperation to achieve real change.  He underlined the importance of hearing the voices of those the most affected by climate change. 

XIANGJUN YAO, Geneva Office Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization, said gender was critical for the realization of the right to food.  Women represented 43 percent of the labour force in the agricultural sector of developing countries, and engaging with them and empowering them had to be part of a global solution.  Agricultural and farming practices should combine some economic benefits and adapt to the new challenges of climate change.  Practices had to be tailored and location specific, and had to seek improving livelihoods. 

RENAN B. DALISAY, Administrator of the National Food Authority of the Philippines, explained the Department of Agriculture’s Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture.  This included mainstreaming climate change issues in policies, programmes, projects and services; the preparation of multi-hazard maps as a guide in vulnerability assessments to enable the specific location of delivery of agricultural support services; and the development of appropriate “all weather” agricultural support services.  These  services comprised of the review and revision of infrastructure standards for agriculture, and in particular, irrigation, farm to market roads, fish ports, and post-harvest facilities, to withstand stronger typhoons, more damaging floodwaters, and storm surges.  They also comprised of the re-engineering of existing irrigation systems to reduce the risk of flooding of agricultural areas; retrofitting existing infrastructures to reduce the risk of destruction due to stronger typhoons, storm surge and flooding; the improvement of weather-related early warning systems to include risk reduction measures for agriculture; and the development of risk-reducing technologies.  Finally, the initiative included establishing partnerships with communities, the private sector and local government units to facilitate a rapid  response; and establishing a credit facility that promoted the adoption of risk reducing adaptation measures. 

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu stated that the panellists had given very constructive responses.  Climate change, and especially the impacts of sea level rise, was serious particularly for States such as Ireland and the Maldives which were completely flat.  There was the issue of urgency to help these vulnerable communities respond or adapt to the impacts of climate change.  The situation was getting very serious.  In Tuvalu, the waves on the beaches were getting scary.  The comments from the representative of Maldives needed to be taken into account very seriously, especially due to the urgency.  The island communities were resilient, and were coping and adapting to the impacts of climate change, but they had limited resources to do so. There was a need to synergize an effective response to climate change.

Nigeria noted the serious influence of climate change on agriculture, citing a recent example of floods that had affected some 7.7 million people in the country.  That incident illustrated the adverse effect of climate change on human rights.  Nigeria thus called on the international community to curb greenhouse emissions, and to secure the necessary funds to protect the most vulnerable people.  Sudan stressed that climate change hit developing and least developed countries particularly hard, due to greenhouse emissions made by developed countries.  Developing countries did not have the technology or funds to deal with those effects.  The effects of climate change could lead to human rights violations through conflicts over resources.  Developed countries should commit to lower emissions of greenhouse gases.  Gabon said it could not be denied that climate change undermined the full enjoyment of human rights.  The Government therefore was taking measures to decrease the adverse effects of climate change, such as deforestation.  It had also established a national council for sustainable development.  The development of low emission policies should go hand in hand with human rights protection.  China said climate change was becoming more rapid and threatening, leading to increasing sea levels and violent storms.  The international community needed to act responsibly and vigorously in order to protect human rights.  China was making efforts to improve its use of carbon energy, and it had announced a climate action plan.  Qatar stressed the need to tackle climate change issues and their impact on development.  To that end, Qatar had adopted a food security programme in order to ensure food and water supplies, and to strengthen the agricultural sector.  States needed to observe the principle of responsibility and to act adequately.  International Development Law Organization noted that legal and policy responses to climate change were still embryonic.  The rule of law had to be observed in order to protect the most vulnerable victims of climate change.  More equitable climate policies were necessary. 

Bhutan said that it believed that all parties could play a role in reducing gas emissions.  Bhutan was not responsible for global warming, and had pledged to remain carbon-neutral, but Bhutan experienced its negative impact nonetheless.  Negotiations and partnership were key.  Democratic Republic of the Congo said that the impact of climate change was growing, leading to negative socio-economic and environmental consequences for populations.  The issue of climate change had to be dealt with in terms of the right to development.  Portugal said climate change threatened the enjoyment of human rights, and had a specific impact on Pacific island countries.  Global cooperation was needed.  Portugal stood ready to cooperate with other countries to reach a consensual solution to the issue. 
Ireland underlined that agriculture was at risk in many countries due to climate change, which often had a negative impact on women.  Women’s voices had to be heard at community and global levels to ensure that solutions were effective.  Training and education on climate change, with a gender perspective, were also important.  Peru said its agriculture was very vulnerable to climate change.  It was important to focus on the climate change impact on individuals’ right to food and on agricultural practices.  International Organization for Migration recalled the importance of taking migration into account when discussing climate change.  Millions of people were displaced each year as a result of natural disasters due to climate change.  The complexity of this phenomenon, and the diversity of situations, made generalized protections difficult. 

JOHN KNOX, Independent Expert on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and panel moderator, asked the panellists to give their closing statements.  In particular, he asked them to reflect on if there was one thing that they would all take away from this session, what would it be. 

ENELE SOSENE SOPOAGA, Prime Minister of Tuvalu, underscored two points.  The first point was that there was a clear consensus on the need for urgent action.  Very constructive suggestions had been made, and clearly there was a strong call for a legally binding agreement to come out of the Paris conference on greenhouse gas emissions and also for concrete action on adaptation measures.  The second point was that the situation in the most vulnerable communities was very serious, and there was an urgent need for these to adapt to be able to cope with climate change.  This was particularly true for small island States.  There was a need for direct access to funding and technology to help them to adapt to climate change challenges on the ground.  Finally, there was a clear need for clarity on the way forward, and for the coordination of processes. There was a necessity to establish a mechanism to coordinate the synergies of the work of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Human Rights Council.  There was also a need to conduct and convene a special session of the Human Rights Council this year or as early as possible, to focus on the impacts on human rights of climate change.  The presence of United Nations agencies on the ground in regions that were most vulnerable, such as small island developing States like Fiji, Kiribati, and Tuvalu, was critical.  This should be considered by the Human Rights Council.  Also to be considered by the Human Rights Council was a commission of inquiry to visit the islands, to see for itself and report properly to the special session that was to be convened. 

RENAN B. DALISAY, Administrator of the National Food Authority of the Philippines, regarding the issue of gender that had been raised earlier, stated that in the Philippines, those who were most affected by typhoons were women.  Women were now included in a recently drafted plan for action.  Mr. Dalisay quoted the call for action that had been drafted by the President of Philippines together with French President  Francois Holland, saying that the world was reaching the point of no return, and a shift was needed from intention to action.  All States were invited to contribute based on their capabilities.  Developed countries were invited to help the developing and most vulnerable.  All States, local governments, civil society and academia were invited to contribute their individual efforts and cooperative initiatives to reverse the impact of climate change.  To address climate change the world had to deal with its primordial causes, not just its effects.  All had to do everything they could in the quickest way possible.  Together, this problem could be overcome.  Climate change and food security knew no borders.  It would be good if the world also knew no borders.

XIANGJUN YAO, Director of the Geneva Office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, echoed all who spoke on the urgency to achieve very ambitious and legally binding targets in Paris.  All those working in the agricultural sector knew that agriculture was feeling the negative impacts of climate change.  Thus a very strong political commitment was needed to achieve consensus in Paris.  Ms. Yao also echoed the general pledge of communities to the fund that could support developing countries and vulnerable peoples to fight climate change and hunger.  Domestic investment to the agricultural sector was equally important.  Domestic agriculture was not always as attractive as other sectors, because of its low profitability and longer term achievements.  Food security and rural livelihoods were very important and these were the most important rights for human beings.  The right to food was essential.  Ms. Yao encouraged all to invest in the agricultural sector. There was a need to have collaboration among all sectors and across sectors as the agricultural sector should not work alone.  Different sectors had to be integrated together, including those related to environmental protection, civil services, finance, and human rights sectors, in order to address this issue.

OLAV FYKSE TVEIT, General Secretary of the World Council of Churches, in his concluding remarks said that it was necessary to consider the effects of the panel discussions and the right of the following generations to secure their right to food and water.  It was thus necessary to mobilize all available resources, including the human rights mechanisms, to ensure them a favourable future.   The human rights regime was  meant to prevent the repetition of past disasters and to prevent future disasters.   Now was the time to act to counteract the effects of natural disasters.  Human rights could not be separated from ecological considerations and sustainability.

ELIZABETH MPOFU, General  Coordinator of La Via Campesina, in her concluding remarks said that it was difficult for women to handle the said issues because women were those to whom children brought all their worries.  She expressed appreciation for the dedication of national delegations to protect the most vulnerable populations.  She pleaded that they really walked the talk, and followed up on what was discussed in the panel through concrete actions.

ANA-MARIA SUAREZ FRANCO, Permanent Representative of FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) International in Geneva, reaffirmed the need for an international binding instrument on climate change with human rights included throughout it.  She also underlined the importance that the work of the Council on human rights and climate change be linked to the work of other United Nations agencies.  She said that human rights violations derived from the fact that people lost their dignity and food independence.  

MARY ROBINSON, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, speaking in closing remarks, reaffirmed that climate change was probably the greatest human rights challenge of their time.  This required a long-term involvement from the Human Rights Council.  Climate change, sustainable development and human rights had to be addressed together.  She underlined the importance of international cooperation, including sharing good practices.  She expressed her admiration to the leadership of small countries affected by climate change, and stressed that these countries desperately needed support from the international community.  When the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was drawn up, its writers would have never imagined that climate change would constitute a threat.  But the reality today required strong steps to be taken, and States had to accept their responsibility. 

JOACHIM RÜCKER, President of the Human Rights Council, said that this full-day discussion had once more proven the undeniable links between climate change and human rights, and would provide valuable content for the Paris negotiations later this year. 

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