United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk
The climate crisis spares no one.
Devastating droughts persist across parts of East Africa.
Hurricanes rage more fiercely in the Atlantic.
Floods are deeper and broader. At one point this year, one third of Pakistan was submerged under water.
Decreasing rainfall and dams are choking the Tigris River in Iraq, to around 35% of its average flow.
Wildfires across Europe burn hotter and longer.
And left in their wake: homes destroyed, agriculture devastated, millions of people displaced.
“The earth does not give us anything anymore.” a farmer from the Sahel told our Office.
We have taken too much.
Climate change is a violation of the earth.
A violation of humanity’s future.
Beyond 1.5°C of warming, the target that is rapidly slipping beyond our grasp, the planet is likely to pass several tipping points – the evidence of this happening is already upon us.
The collapse of critical ice sheets, locking in decades of sea-level rise.
The death of tropical coral reef systems, devastating the earth’s natural systems.
Permafrost melting, releasing methane and triggering a vicious warming cycle.
But we are not mere spectators, left shocked from the sidelines.
First and foremost, States, but also civil society, communities, UN agencies – all of us – collectively have agency here.
We have one choice and one imperative: to act urgently, with human rights as our compass.
It will not be easy - achieving real and meaningful change in peoples’ lives never is.
But we have the tools at our disposal.
Human rights can trace our path and inform the decisions that need to be made.
On how to bolster climate financing to benefit the people and countries most affected by climate change.
On mitigation and adaptation.
On loss and damage, where effective international cooperation can be a game-changer.
This is a matter of justice and equity.
These are all human rights issues, with real impact on human beings across the globe.
Meaningful participation for all, including those most affected by climate change, is necessary if we are serious about transparent, inclusive and accountable climate decision-making.
To protect people and the planet.
To put the brakes on climate change.
A just society takes action when people are suffering.
A just society holds all actors accountable for their decisions.
We are 14 UN partners gathered under the even broader umbrella of the Issue Management Group on human rights and the environment of the UN Environment Management Group.
There is tremendous strength in that collective.
Our combined vision, expertise and resources can do wonders.
Guided by our joint ambition, expressed in The Paris Agreement, The Call to Action, Our Common Agenda.
And in the international recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
We can come together, united behind a common purpose – human rights and climate justice.
Above all, this requires leadership – to realize a zero-carbon society, to tackle inequality and entrenched special interests.
The climate negotiations are the place to do that.
I look forward to the outcome of the discussion today.