Skip to main content

Statements Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Climate Vulnerable Forum 2018 Virtual Summit

'Climate Vulnerable': Video statement

22 November 2018

Video statement by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet

22 November 2018

The Climate Vulnerable Forum reminds us of a simple truth: climate change discriminates. Those most profoundly affected by climate change are those who already endure multiple forms of discrimination -- because of their gender; because of their  economic status, because they are members of indigenous peoples or minorities; because they are migrants, or internally displaced; because of their age; or because they are people with disabilities.

Climate change also discriminates on the basis of geography. Entire nations may sink beneath rising tides, while droughts, floods and worse strike others; whole ecosystems and ways of being may cease to exist.

And the worst affected are always the poor.

At this Summit, we will hear the voices of countries and people, which have contributed the least to climate change – and now suffer its harshest consequences. Their calls to action must be answered. The principle of common but differentiated responsibility must be put into practice. And we need ambitious climate action that reshapes our global energy infrastructure, making safe, clean energy accessible to all persons with full respect for their rights.

To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, States must strengthen their mitigation commitments and nationally determined contributions. This is a human rights obligation. Governments must also ensure that those affected, particularly those in vulnerable situations, have access to effective remedies and the necessary means of adaptation to enjoy lives of human dignity.

States must cooperate with each other and empower all people to participate in climate decision-making.  We need more clarity, and better data to demonstrate the disproportionate harm being inflicted on women, indigenous peoples, and others disproportionately affected by climate change.  They are often the custodians of traditional knowledge and conservators of lands and natural resources. Their efforts to protect biodiversity and ecosystems contribute to climate change mitigation and climate resilience. They must be at the center of our efforts.

The COP24 in Katowice is our opportunity to ensure that climate actions taken under the Paris Agreement respect, promote and consider human rights – and facilitate evidence-based decisions founded on the best available science. I urge the Climate Vulnerable Forum to lead the way. Thank you.