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Human Rights Council holds panel discussion on climate change and the right to health

Human Rights Council
MORNING

3 March 2016

The Human Rights Council this morning held a panel discussion on the relationship between climate change and the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.

Choi Kyonglim, President of the Human Rights Council, said that in its resolution 29/15 on human rights and climate change, the Council had decided to hold a panel discussion on the adverse impact of climate change on States’ efforts to progressively realize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and related policies, lessons learned and good practices.

Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said the World Health Organization estimated that each year more than seven million deaths worldwide could be attributed to air pollution.  Climate change caused tens of thousands of deaths annually from other causes.  By 2050, experts predicted that climate change would cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year, just from malaria, diarrhea, heat stress, and under-nutrition.  The world could not afford not to take open action.  Holding countries accountable for their climate policies was also a matter of fairness.  As was so often the case, one of the biggest barriers that stood in the way of realizing the right to health was poverty. 

Kate Gilmore, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that entire peoples and ways of living could disappear due to climate change.  To avert such a future, the international community had to recognize that climate change was the result of our choices.  The world must protect those most vulnerable and ensure justice to those who were affected by climate change, ensuring that climate policies were equitable and just, and that they promoted human dignity.

Trung Thanh Nguyen, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations Office at Geneva, moderator of the panel, noted that the Paris Agreement was not only a climate treaty but a public health treaty in which the right to health was essential.  All relevant stakeholders had to discuss the world impact of climate change on the right to health, and had to acquire a deeper understanding of the right to health.

Dainius Pūras, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, speaking as a panellist, explained that the right to health was an inclusive right, extending not only to timely and appropriate health care, but also to the underlying determinants of health, such as access to quality food, safe and potable water and adequate sanitation, healthy occupational and environmental conditions, and access to health-related education and information. 

Lilibeth C. David, Undersecretary at the Department of Health of Philippines, speaking as a panellist, called for continued support, cooperation and solidarity in the financial, technological and humanitarian aspects of climate response, and for securing about $ 100 billion for countries’ needs prior to 2020 for fast-tracked climate protection.

Cristina Tirado, Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, speaking as a panellist, underlined that climate finance should support measures that brought health co-benefits and respected gender equality and equity principles at all levels.  A climate justice approach required funding to be innovative, long-term and additional, without adverting funds from budgets designated for poverty reduction and sustainable development. 

Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, Coordinator of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, speaking as a panellist, said that indigenous peoples’ health was linked to the health of the environment.  Climate change had direct consequences on their health and traditional lifestyle.  The survival of indigenous peoples was at stake, and funding support had to be provided to them.     

During the ensuing discussion, speakers highlighted that climate change was deepening social inequalities and impacted the right to health of the most vulnerable populations, including the poor, indigenous peoples, women and children.  In that regard, it was important to ensure that these populations were actively involved in climate change and disaster-risk reduction efforts.  States welcomed the adoption of the Paris Agreement and the inclusion of references to human rights and health therein, and underlined the importance of accountability and reporting on the implementation of its provisions.  The vulnerability of developing countries was highlighted, and States stressed the responsibility of developed countries in providing assistance and support to them. 

Speaking were: South Africa, Slovenia on behalf of sponsors of resolutions on human rights and climate change Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland, European Union, Philippines on behalf of the Member States of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Dominican Republic on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, Iceland on behalf of the Nordic Countries, Portugal, Samoa, Egypt, United States, France, Paraguay, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, China, United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Panama, Georgia, Peru, Albania, South Africa on behalf of the African Group, Spain, Italy, Tunisia, Russian Federation, Ireland, Chile, Brazil, Maldives, El Salvador and Malawi. 

Also taking the floor were the following civil society organizations: Franciscans International, American Association of Jurists, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, Indian Council of South America, Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture, and Arab Commission for Human Rights.

The Council is having a day full of meetings today.  At noon, it will hold a clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment and the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context. 
 
 
Documentation

The Council has before it the Analytical study of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/36).


Opening Statements

CHOI KYONGLIM, President of the Human Rights Council, said that in its resolution 29/15 of 22 July 2015 on human rights and climate change, the Human Rights Council had decided to hold a panel discussion on the adverse impact of climate change on States’ efforts to progressively realize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health and related policies, lessons learned and good practices.

KATE GILMORE, United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, noted that the Paris Agreement stood out as a landmark achievement to rally humanity to defeat the scourge of climate change.  The Paris Agreement did not shy away from protecting human rights, including the right to health, in all climate actions.  2015 was the hottest year so far and it was the year when the international community acknowledged that the effects of climate change existed and would be exacerbated.  Those effects killed, destroyed and wrecked local economies, and eradicated local communities and culture.  There was a common responsibility to offset climate change.  Climate change exacerbated the conditions of life for women, children, indigenous peoples, migrants, persons with disabilities, and the poor.  Women suffered higher rates of mortality as a consequence of natural disasters, and there was a direct correlation observed between women’s status in society and their likelihood of receiving adequate health care in times of disaster and environmental stress.  Studies had clearly linked the outbreak of diseases with climate change.  A world of unchecked climate change was a world where glaciers and tundra melted away, where millions went hungry and thousands died prematurely, where entire peoples and ways of living disappeared.  To avert such a future, the international community had to recognize that climate change was the result of our choices.  The world must protect those most vulnerable and ensure justice to those who were affected most by climate change, ensuring that climate policies were equitable and just, and that they promoted human dignity.  Many in the private sector disregarded their responsibility vis-a-vis climate change.  Solutions to climate change had to be local and locally informed, and had to uphold human dignity.   

MARGARET CHAN, Director-General of the World Health Organization, said that for public health, climate change was the defining issue for the twenty-first century.  The impact of climate change was universal, unpredictable, and sometimes contested.  Human beings were unquestionably the most important species threatened by climate change.  The World Health Organization estimated that each year more than seven million deaths worldwide could be attributed to air pollution.  Climate change also caused tens of thousands of deaths yearly from other causes.  Droughts, floods, wildfires and heat waves claimed human lives.  According to the World Meteorological Organization, 2015 was the hottest year since records began in 1880.  This year was predicted to be even hotter.  Droughts threatened already perilous food supplies, especially in poor countries where subsistence farming was rain-fed.  The scale of this threat was immense.  In some countries more than 70 per cent of the population depended on subsistence farming for livelihood.  Outbreaks of cholera thrived under too much or too little water.  Insects and other carriers of disease were very sensitive to heat, humidity and rainfall. Climate change had given dengue a vastly expanded geographical range and could do the same for malaria.  By 2050, experts predicted that climate change would cause an additional 250,000 deaths each year, just from malaria, diarrhoea, heat stress, and under-nutrition.  More than half of the world population lived in an area where Aedes aegypti mosquitoes, the principal vector for Zika, dengue, and chikungunya, were present.  The warming temperatures threatened to expand this geographical range even further.  Mosquitoes loved warm weather.  Seventy-five per cent of all new human pathogens originated in wild or domestic animals.  Climate change had an impact on wild animal populations. 

All these consequences for health made the first global climate change agreement reached in Paris last year not just an environment but a health treaty as well.  Human rights obligations, standards and principles had the power to shape policies for climate change mitigation and adaptation.  A human rights approach provided an entry point for holding countries accountable for their international obligations on climate change.  Much of the dialogue on climate change centred on money.  What would mitigation and adaptation measures cost?  The focus of this panel on human rights offered a different perspective, putting people, and not money, first.  The world could not afford not to take open action.  Holding countries accountable for their climate policies was also a matter of fairness.  As was so often the case, one of the biggest barriers that stood in the way of realizing the right to health was poverty.  The poorest households in the world were forced to rely on the most polluting energy sources just for everyday cooking.  Use of these energy sources, which caused heavy indoor air pollution, was associated with more than 3.5 million deaths each year.  Half of all health facilities in some African countries did not have reliable access to electricity and clean running water.  This was a hazard that came under the spotlight during the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  The Paris agreement, with its central reference to human rights, was a welcome step forward; however, the agreement was largely voluntary and subject to interpretation.  What was needed now was an agenda for action that doubled as a results-based framework for accountability. 

Statements by the Moderator and Panellists

TRUNG THANH NGUYEN, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam, moderator of the panel discussion, said climate change affected the social and environmental determinants of health.  It required everyone to find responses.  The Paris Agreement was not only a climate treaty but a public health treaty in which the right to health was essential.  Today, they had gathered for a very serious purpose.  All relevant stakeholders were to discuss the impact of climate change on the right to health.  They needed to have a deeper understanding of the right to health and to facilitate action – no more philosophical talk.  They needed to arrive at the right course for the Agenda for Action in the form of initiatives for the integration of human rights in the Paris Agreement.  Viet Nam was one of the top five countries most vulnerable to climate change.  By the end of the twenty-first century, it was predicted that its temperature would increase by three degrees, sea levels would rise by one meter, and eleven per cent of the river delta would rise, directly impacting 10 to 12 per cent of the population of Viet Nam.  This was and would be a serious effect on the enjoyment of the right to health.  As Viet Nam was the second largest rice exporter to the world, this would affect hundreds of millions of mouths in the world.
 
DAINIUS PURAS, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, reminded that with the Paris Agreement adopted on 12 December 2015, the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change had responded to the calls of many to have a robust reference to human rights in the agreement.  The right to health was an inclusive right, extending not only to timely and appropriate health care, but also to the underlying determinants of health, such as access to quality food, safe and potable water and adequate sanitation, healthy occupational and environmental conditions, and access to health-related education and information.  Entitlements resulted from the obligation of States to provide adequate health services necessary for the realization of the highest attainable standards of health, including non-discriminatory access to a system of protection, prevention, treatment and control of diseases.  The effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of the right to health were already alarming.  They threatened human health and well-being by increasing causes of morbidity and mortality.  As climate change was intrinsically discriminatory, it perpetuated existing inequalities.  Those most affected were the ones in vulnerable situations, the poor and marginalized.  States had a legal and moral obligation to stop and mitigate risks associated with climate change and its adverse effects on human rights.  But, for real change, a bold commitment and visionary leadership was needed in order to move beyond short-term gains and corporate greed.

LILIBETH C. DAVID, Undersecretary of the Department of Health of Philippines, stated that the Twenty-first Conference on the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP21) Agreement was a breakthrough in history as it had taken decades of negotiations to arrive at a collective commitment in making the planet a healthier place to live in.  Climate change had significantly affected the health of the Filipinos in tangible ways: in health losses due to an increasing number of devastating extreme weather events, and in the shifting patterns of climate sensitive diseases.  After the massive flooding brought about by tropical storm Ketsana and typhoon Parma in 2009, the number of leptospirosis cases had risen dramatically, up to five times more than its incidence in 2008.  Dengue had also continually plagued the country with an overall increase in incidents over time.  Philippines’ experience during the super typhoon Haiyan in 2013 highlighted the capacity of global climate change to wipe out health sector gains and inflict catastrophic losses of life and property.  Ms. David called for continued support, cooperation and solidarity in the financial, technological and humanitarian aspects of climate response, and for securing about 100 billion dollars for countries’ needs prior to 2020 for fast-tracked climate protection and ensuring the provision of universal health coverage for all, including marginalized, indigenous and poverty-risk groups.   The right to health would require governments, civil society, the private sector, international partners and each individual to protect the environment and contribute to its sustainability and development.  All had to strive to meet the needs of the present in consideration of future generations.

CRISTINA TIRADO, Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, underlined that calorie availability in 2050 was likely to decline throughout the developing world due to climate change, resulting in an additional 24 million undernourished children.  The same elevated CO2 levels that were causing climate change were directly decreasing the protein, mineral and vitamin content for many important staple food crops.  That compromised the right to food of the current and future generations, particularly in developing countries which depended on staples.  Health losses due to climate change would occur mainly in the areas that were already food insecure.  It was predicted that climate change would increase severe child stunting by 23 per cent in central sub-Saharan Africa and by 62 per cent in South Asia in 2050.  Stunted girls frequently became mothers of stunted children thus perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty.  At the same time, increasing global demand for animal foods and appetite for meat in rich countries and in the urban developing world presented huge implications for climate change and human health.  A meat based diet had a very high impact on emissions and was associated with increased risks for non-communicable diseases when compared to more sustainable and healthier diets.  Efforts to modify production and consumption of meat to mitigate climate change were ethically imperative.  Climate finance should support measures that brought health co-benefits and respected gender equality and equity principles at all levels.  A climate justice approach required funding to be innovative, long-term and additional, without adverting funds from budgets designated for poverty reduction and sustainable development.  To ensure gender equity, it was crucial to improve women’s access to education, land, technologies, credit, social protection, and resilient health systems.  To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, Governments should urgently cut their emissions to limit warming below 1.5 degrees Celsius, and commit to help the most vulnerable to adapt to an increasingly unpredictable world. 

TRUNG THANH NGUYEN, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations Office at Geneva and moderator, invited the next panellist to explain how climate change affected indigenous people and how to address these challenges. 

HINDOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, Coordinator of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, said that indigenous peoples’ health was linked to the health of the environment.  Climate change had direct consequences on their health and traditional lifestyle.  In 2015, there was a disrupted rainy season in Chad, which had had a negative impact on access to food and health of nomadic communities.  This had affected women and children particularly.  Medicinal plants had become rare or had completely disappeared.  These negative impacts had had similar negative effects on indigenous peoples everywhere.  She welcomed that the Paris Agreement had recognized the right of indigenous peoples to health in its preamble, but regretted that those provisions were not mainstreamed throughout the text.  The survival of indigenous peoples was at stake, and funding support had to be provided to them.  The traditional knowledge of indigenous peoples on traditional medicines or on climate had to be understood, shared and protected, including from the activities of companies.  Concluding, she re-emphasized the importance of including health in efforts to combat climate change.  

Discussion

South Africa welcomed the agreement reached in Paris, and insisted on the need for accountability in reporting and measuring efforts made to address climate change.  South Africa underlined the disparities among developed and developing countries regarding means to protect the right to health.   Slovenia, speaking on behalf of the sponsors of resolutions on human rights and climate change: Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland, highlighted States’ obligations to adopt appropriate legal frameworks and consult with all relevant actors, and to provide effective remedies for climate-related violations of human rights, with a particular attention to the rights of women and the most vulnerable.  European Union welcomed the inclusion of human rights and the right to health in the preamble of the Paris Agreement, and underlined the particular vulnerability of children to climate change.  The European Union asked for information on how to strengthen the participation and education of children on climate change issues. 

Philippines, speaking on behalf of the Member States of the Climate Vulnerable Forum, welcomed that climate change was part of the agenda of the Human Rights Council, and said that reducing emissions and living up to the ambitious objective of limiting warming to 1.5 degrees would lower risks and deliver large benefits, including for the protection of the right to health.  Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that climate change disproportionally impacted the right to health of populations of developing countries, and insisted that developed countries should lead in assisting developing countries in overcoming the consequences of climate change.  Dominican Republic, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that the human rights implications of climate change should be tackled through cooperation, financial support and through sharing technologies.  It underlined the importance of the right to development, particularly for the most vulnerable populations.  Iceland, speaking on behalf of Nordic countries, said that climate change disproportionately affected poor populations, particularly women.  The leadership of women and their full and equal participation in decision-making processes was needed to tackle this phenomenon.  

Portugal said climate change disproportionately affected the poor and marginalized the unhealthy, the undernourished, the most vulnerable women and children, the elderly, and those living in developing countries.  The 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement offered an unprecedented opportunity for a human-rights based approach to sustainable development.  Samoa joined many other small island developing States that were at the forefront of those most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change with sea level rise and extreme weather events that included cyclones and droughts becoming more frequent and more severe. Egypt called on the international community to increase local, national, and international cooperation to achieve sustainable development.  The international community was suffering from the impact of climate change on human rights.  United States was deeply concerned about the spread of insect-borne diseases, including the Zika virus.  President Obama had emphasized the need to accelerate research efforts to identify better diagnostic tests and vector control approaches and to develop vaccines and therapeutics.  France said climate change was a major challenge to all, without exception.  Everyone knew the consequences of extreme weather.  Climate change threatened progress already made in the areas of health, and led to the weakening of agricultural systems.

Franciscans International drew the attention of participants to the Pertussis epidemic caused by extreme weather and intense El Nino effects in Nguda Regency, West Papua, Indonesia, due to which 51 children and 3 adults had died.  American Association of Jurists said that according to experts, by 2050, climate change was expected to cause approximately 9 million deaths from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhoea, and heat stress.  The development of biogas or biofuel had adverse consequences on the right to food and therefore also affected the right to health.  Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom said that militarism was a cancer that had to be addressed for effective climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, including around action on health issues.  Global militarism had to be held accountable as the largest fossil fuel consumer, and prevention of further production and use of weapons was needed.

Response from the Moderator and Panellists

TRUNG THANH NGUYEN, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations Office at Geneva and moderator, said he had heard good examples of experiences and practices of various countries responding to climate change.  Concerns were raised mostly about the most vulnerable groups, such as women, children, elderly, and the socially and economically disadvantaged.  Developing countries were most severely endangered by climate change effects, which meant that there had to be link between the right to development and climate change policies.  What was the role of citizens and local governments in fighting climate change and managing its effects?

CRISTINA TIRADO, Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, responded to a question by the European Union about good practices to ensure the right of the child to adequate health services and to enjoy the highest standards of health.  Health education was critical to have access to education and participation.  School programmes were very effective in promoting girls’ education in Latin American countries and in North Africa.  In other countries, where education was not challenging, there were very innovative solutions, such as schools that focused on the environment and climate.  

HINDOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, Coordinator of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, noted that healthy peoples could not be such without having realized their right to development.  Vulnerable groups had a role to play in integrating human rights into climate change policies.  There was need for a synergy between human rights policies and climate change policies.   There would be loss and damage if those two agendas were kept separate.  The vision of development required such synergies at the country level.  There was a need to give power to the populations in order to ensure their access to the enjoyment of the right to health and the right to development

TRUNG THANH NGUYEN, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations Office at Geneva and moderator, said that it was clear that action was urgently needed to address the impact of climate change on health and access to food. 

LILIBETH C. DAVID, Undersecretary of the Department of Health of the Philippines, said that the health sector, housing sector, and employment sector played an important role in the realization of the right to health, and had to be held accountable.  Investments had to target vulnerable groups.  Efforts had to be done to improve syndrome detection and develop vaccines. 

DAINIUS PŪRAS, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, agreed on the need to strengthen health policies through a human-rights based approach.  It was crucial to prevent the effects of future natural disasters on the health of children.  There were good practices on how to enable parents and children to have non-violent relations.  Violence was indeed a risk-factor which was exacerbated by climate change.  It was also important to mainstream the right to health throughout all policies. 

TRUNG THANH NGUYEN, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations Office at Geneva and moderator, underlined the importance of accountability and remedy.  He also stressed the need for global cooperation targeting local communities. 

CRISTINA TIRADO, Adjunct Associate Professor of the University of California, Los Angeles, responded to the question raised by the representative of the Philippines on how other countries were preparing for insect-borne diseases.  Apart from monitoring, there were other approaches such as strengthening environmental health interventions, promoting education, spraying insecticides, or drying areas that were usually prone to mosquito breeding.  Another approach that had been very effective as demonstrated in Brazil was the eradication of male mosquitoes with gamma rays. 

Discussion
 
Paraguay said climate change played an important role in human rights.  The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean agreed that the impact of climate change was undeniable and continued to combat air pollution and improve the quality of water.  Saint Vincent and the Grenadines said heavy rainfall, landslides and droughts had caused damage to national infrastructures.  The cost of the environmental impact over the past years was $ 600 million.  Readjustment of developmental priorities was required.  China said climate change degraded the environment, caused natural disasters, impacted the right to life and led to huge displacements.  China had always been an active advocate of sustainable development.  The Paris Agreement had identified global cooperation for after 2020.  United Arab Emirates said despite the difficulty to accurately identify the extent of the impact of the environment on health, the World Health Organization had estimated that 24 per cent of diseases and 23 per cent of deaths were environment-related.  In developing countries, the impact was 15 times more to that in developed countries.  Climate change knew no boundaries and had to be faced by the international community.  Bangladesh said climate change was among the biggest global health threats in the twenty-first century.  It would put the lives of billions of people at risk.  Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights entitled everyone to the right to health.  Adverse effects of climate change directly affected the right to health.  Panama gave the highest priority to the threat of climate change.  Extreme weather events had given rise to the growth of diseases such as dengue.  It was essential to take preventive measures and to provide a more favourable environment to provide universal health coverage.  Georgia said climate change jeopardized people’s lives and compromised water supplies.  There was an urgent need to tackle this matter with concerted action.  COP21 had set an important impetus to fight against climate change.  The most susceptible countries had to be assisted in adapting to climate change and attaining sustainable development. 

Peru said that as one of the most vulnerable countries to climate change because of its extraordinary geographical diversity, incidents with a direct impact on vulnerable populations created a demand for services, to which Peru had responded by including a climate change dimension in its national health plan.  Albania said that disaggregated data as well as enhanced academic research were needed in order to have a more efficient and timely response to the negative impact of climate change on determinants of health.  South Africa, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that climate change had been identified as one of the new threats to peace and security in Africa, adding that it was paramount to develop global partnerships to enable Africa to meet the challenges it faced.  Spain said that the adoption of the Paris agreement was a sign that the international community was up to the task of taking up global challenges to promote new societies, and asked the panel how the private sector could be involved in finding solutions.  Italy said that in order to comply with the Paris Agreement, Italy would create two new entities which would promote information and awareness-raising on climate change and identify priorities in monitoring the effectiveness of actions related to adaptation.

Indian Council of South America said that in the Amazonian areas, exploring for oil was threatening the vulnerable ecosystem, and asked how developing countries could assure incomes in place of hydrocarbon extraction which was already obsolete.  Khiam Rehabilitation Centre for Victims of Torture said that waste was detrimental to the environment because it destroyed the flora, and it was also a hazard to health and the environment, and called on the Council to call on the Lebanese Government to devise an emergency response plan to address that problem.  Arab Commission for Human Rights in a joint statement addressed the issue of water-borne diseases in developing countries, asking the Council how accurate and reliable data could be made available which by scientifically defensible methods determined when water was contaminated by pathogens and to what extent.

Tunisia said that climate change had negative consequences on health, which would impact developing countries the most.  It would not only impact health, but also access to water, food and housing.  Russian Federation said that addressing climate change was a precondition to achieving sustainable development and eradicating poverty, and regretted that some countries imposed unilateral restrictions on the share of technologies that would contribute to address the impact of climate change.  Ireland was committed to delivering responses to climate change, and noted the disproportionate impact that climate change had on vulnerable populations, particularly on women.  Chile said that climate change was deepening social inequalities, and insisted on the importance of developing measures to address climate change while minimizing its effects on health.  Brazil said that it had adopted a national action plan on health, which focused on strengthening the response to climate change and its effects on health, with concrete targets, guidelines and indicators.  Maldives recognized that climate change posed a threat to the right to life and the right to health, and highlighted Maldives’ great vulnerability to climate change.   El Salvador said that developed countries’ commitments for funding and the transmission of technologies to developing countries should be transparent and unconditional, and separated from development aid.  Malawi said that it had adopted policies to ensure that all projects underwent health-impact assessments prior to their execution. 
 
Concluding Remarks

TRUNG THANH NGUYEN, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam to the United Nations Office,  said Viet Nam was one of the five most vulnerable countries to climate change.  The impact of climate change on health policies could be addressed by mainstreaming climate change policies and health policies, conducting studies on climate change and health, and working internationally and regionally.  The Human Rights Council was the appropriate venue to mobilize global efforts to climate change with a right-based approach.  Viet Nam would continue to work tirelessly to elaborate new initiatives and windows for cooperation to ensure a genuine difference on the ground. 

CRISTINA TIRADO, Adjunct Associate Professor of the University of California, Los Angeles, in response to the question by the representative of Ireland on the disproportionate impact of climate change on women’s health, said that some of the critical strategies were to promote gender equality and equity. To ensure gender equity, it was crucial to improve women’s access to land, education, social protection, and resilient health systems.  On the question from the representative of Spain on how States could support the involvement of the private sector in this shared effort, Ms. Tirado said that public-private partnerships to ensure universal coverage, in conjunction with programmes for resilience to climate change were one way to do this.

LILIBETH DAVID, Undersecretary of the Department of Health of the Philippines, said that a Special Fund could be set up to finance adaptation programmes and projects for the national adaptation policies for climate change.

HINDOU OUMAROU IBRAHIM, Coordinator of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad, in response to the question about indigenous peoples and fossil fuel extraction, said the international community needed to forget fossil fuels and go to clean energy.  The Paris Agreement had five references to indigenous peoples, but they were mostly in the preamble.  Those documents needed to be protected and implemented at the national level.  Partnership was needed between United Nations agencies, which needed to be linked first.

DAINIUS PŪRAS, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, said that questions remained about what mandate holders could do.  He remained ready to do more, noting the planning of a report on the Sustainable Development Goals, and the necessity of an active role in monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the Paris agreement.

TRUNG THANH NGUYEN, Permanent Representative of Viet Nam, thanked all participants and said it had been heard that climate change needed action from communities as well as individuals, public and private together.

JANIS KARKLINS, Vice-President of the Human Rights Council, said that the last remark brought the discussion to a close, thanked all panellists, and added that he was looking forward to the Secretariat’s synthesis paper.
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