Skip to main content

Challenge of climate change is transformative

09 November 2018

"One the most significant things about the combination of gender and climate action is the potential for climate action to be transformative," Nazhat Shameem Kahan, Ambassador of Fiji to Switzerland said. "We do not perpetuate the existing inequalities when dealing with climate change. Climate change is a new challenge for us, but it is not business as usual. In my view, gender responsiveness is a silver lining in the cloud of climate change."

For Khan, a lawyer, former High Court Judge and climate justice advocate, an interest in human rights crept up on her while studying and advocating the law.

"As I started practicing law, I realized the whole concept of access to justice was really a balancing exercise between the rights of victims and the rights of accused person and the rights of society," she said. "It made me ask myself some very critical questions about the way justice system was delivering on human rights issues."

Khan is also currently Fiji’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations in Geneva and it was in this role that she took on a high profile role of climate justice advocate, particularly as climate change affects women in developing countries. As her country’s chief negotiator during the COP 23 in Fiji in 2017, she said her impact was to keep reminding negotiators that people were at the centre of any climate action.

This human-centred approach is also what underpins the staying power of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), she said. Despite being 70 years old, it encapsulates what is basic and relevant about rights even today.

"Human rights are inalienable. If we can accept that our cultures are not an excuse to discriminate against people, then I think we will be taking a huge step toward accepting the universality of rights," Khan said

9 November 2018