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Report on climate change, culture and cultural rights

10 August 2020
Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights
To the General Assembly at its 75th session, 22 October 2020.


For her 2020 thematic report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur addressed the cultural and cultural rights dimensions of the current climate emergency, which have too often been overlooked. In it, the Special Rapporteur considers the negative impacts of climate change on human cultures and on the enjoyment of cultural rights, and the positive potential of cultures and the exercise of cultural rights to serve as critical tools in responding to the climate emergency.

Key Findings and Recommendations

In the report, the Special Rapporteur examines the negative impact of climate change on culture, cultural heritage and cultural rights. Measures to catalogue the harmful effects of climate change are discussed, and States are urged to participate in these measures. The expert addresses the limitations of current mitigation and adaptation measures and urges a human-rights-based approach that respects the cultural rights of affected people.

She also considers examples of how cultural practices can be used to share information and to combat the effects of climate change, including through greater use of traditional knowledge. The report also includes recommendations to States, civil society and other stakeholders.

In the annex to the report, the Special Rapporteur discusses the legal framework surrounding cultural rights and climate change, as well as climate change denial and the right to scientific knowledge.

Read the report on climate change, culture and cultural rights and its annex.


In order to better assess threats posed by climate change to culture and all of the cultural rights covered by her mandate, the Special Rapporteur prepared a questionnaire, which she sent out on 30 March 2020, inviting all States, United Nations agencies, academics, experts and civil society organizations to share their contributions before 1 May 2020.

See the Note Verbale from the OHCHR and the Special Rapporteur’s letter inviting all stakeholders to take part in this call for contribution.

Read the questionnaire.

Inputs received

The Special Rapporteur thanks all those who submitted information in response to the call for submission.

Responses from States

Responses from National Human Rights Institutions and intergovernmental organisations

Responses from organisations of civil society

Responses from persons and academics