22 Sep 2023
Venue: Palais des Nations, Room XXV & Online | YouTube
On the sidelines of 54th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC54), this year’s Toxic Free Talks will take place from 20 to 22 September — three days of conferences and discussions, highlighting the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights, and of organizations in the struggle for the right to live in a toxic-free environment. This side event to HRC54 on human rights, detoxification and decarbonization, organized by the Permanent Mission of Chile and co-sponsored by the Permanent Mission of Germany, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Permananent Mission of the Philippines and the Geneva Climate Change Consultation Group (GeCCco), within the framework of the Geneva Toxic Free Talks, offers an opportunity to disseminate and deepen these issues.
About this Session
In accordance with Human Rights Council resolution 45/17, the Special Rapporteur on the human rights implications of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes, Marcos A. Orellana, submits to the Council his annual thematic report, which is dedicated to examining the toxic impacts of some proposed solutions to climate change.
Reductions in greenhouse gas emissions are urgently needed to address the global climate crisis. Decarbonisation of the energy matrix and polluting sectors of the economy are indispensable to achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. However, some climate technologies proposed in recent years may exacerbate the toxic burden on people and the planet. The Special Rapporteur presents recommendations aimed at accelerating decarbonization and detoxification strategies that are integrated and guided by human rights principles.
In this context, the use of minerals and metals in the technological transformation required for decarbonization poses significant environmental and social challenges, including the impacts associated with their extraction and processing, as well as waste management. Similarly, the just transition in decarbonization and detoxification strategies, including with respect to the closing of coal-fired power plants, raises important human rights issues. Also, the narratives around nuclear power plants and other sources of energy call for their analysis under a human rights lens.
In the face of these challenges, several experiences with good practices could be of great interest to the international community. For example, Chile is developing a lithium strategy, including protections for environmental rights. South Africa has established a Presidential Climate Commission to advise on decarbonization. Germany has decided to phase out coal and nuclear from its energy matrix.
The side event on human rights, detoxification and decarbonization offers thus an opportunity to disseminate and deepen these issues.
About the Geneva Toxic Free Talks
The Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights reports every fall to the Council and to the UN General Assembly on issues related to his mandate. The Geneva Toxic Free Talks aim to harness the opportunity of this moment of the year to reflect on the challenges posed by the production, use, and dissemination of toxics and on how Geneva contributes to bringing together the actors working in reversing the toxic tide.
On the sidelines of HRC54, this year’s Toxic Free Talks will take place from 20 to 22 September — three days of conferences and discussions, highlighting the work of the Special Rapporteur and of organizations in the struggle for the right to live in a toxic-free environment.
H.E. Amb. Claudia FUENTES JULIO
Permanent Representative of Chile to the United Nations Office and other international organizations in Geneva
H.E. Amb. Katharina STASCH
Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva
UN Special Rapporteur on toxics and human rights
Professor of Mining Engineering, Catholic University of Chile
Commissioner, Presidential Climate Commission of South Africa
Senior Nuclear Specialist, Greenpeace East Asia
Representative of Earthjustice to the United Nations in Geneva | Moderator
Live from Youtube
Live in the room
Documents and Links
- Presentations made during the event
- Environment @ 54th Session of the UN Human Rights Council
- Geneva Toxic Free Talks
Doc Searls (2010). Flickr.