24 Jun 2022
13:30–15:00

Venue: Online | Webex

Organization: Geneva Climate Change Consultation Group, Geneva Environment Network

This side event to the 50th Session of the Human Rights Council was organized by the Geneva Climate Change Consultation Group (GeCCco) and the Geneva Environment Network.

Environment @ HRC50

From climate change, business and human rights, to women’s human rights, the environment agenda is present at the 50th session of the Human Rights Council, taking place in Geneva and online from 13 June to 8 July.

About this Session

Rights holders face great challenges in asserting their human rights, when it comes to climate change, in having climate related human rights violations recognized as such, in having policies to protect these rights explicitly implemented, starting with prevention policies, and in having effective remedies available and activable, at the closest and most relevant level.

The UN Human Rights Council has been able to develop over the last decades, both through its own normative work and through the activities of its Special Procedures and other subsidiary bodies, preventive and protective approaches in various fields.

How can this experience benefit the people facing climate related challenges? How does human rights strengthen both preventive and protection measures? How can they be easily activated by the people concerned? Which are the urgencies and priorities for these people and communities? These are the questions we want to ask and explore during this event.

The creation of a Special Rapporteur on the human rights challenges of climate change is a great opportunity to deepen the subject and improve the protections that people affected by climate change need right now, on the ground.

Speakers

Ian FRY

Special Rapporteur on climate change

Emina ĆERIMOVIĆ

Senior Researcher, Disability Rights, Human Rights Watch

Sandra EPAL-RATJEN

International Advocacy Director & Deputy Executive Director, Franciscans International

Herman VAN BREEN

International Policy and Advocacy Officer, International Movement ATD Fourth World

Massimo FRIGO

Senior Legal Adviser & UN Representative, International Commission of Jurists

Testimonies

Lilisiana Community

Malaita Island, in Solomon Islands

Gabrielle PETERS

Disabled Writer, Vancouver, Canada

Barclay

Central African Republic

Herman KUMARA

Head, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Sri Lanka

Violet MISIKA

Tara Agriculture camp, Kalonda Ward, Zambia

Summary

Coming soon.

Highlights

Here are several highlights of the event from our Twitter.

Testimonies

The event begins with testimonies of people’s experiences as they face the challenges of climate change.

The Sinking Community | Testimony from Lilisiana Community on Malaita, Solomon Islands

A community with a growing population of children and youth, the Lilisiana community in Malaita Island in the Solomon Islands has observed the increasing frequency of high tide in their community, growing at an unstable rate every year. As sea level rise affect their everyday lives, the video aims to ask, “Who is responsible?”

Statement by Gabrielle Peters at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) on November 5, 2021

Spring Hawes of Human Rights Watch reads the words of Gabrielle Peters.

Disabled people won’t survive climate change if it isn’t in the plan for us to do so, and you can’t plan for us without us. I need you to reassure me that the plan isn’t for us to die to lighten the lifeboat. How many times have we seen environmental policies fail to apply a disability lens offloading the burden onto disabled people and robbing us of what little accessibility we have?

We need leaders to commit to working with us to create disability-led plans to lessen and address the impacts of climate change we can and must create a future that celebrates and supports all human life we must leave no one behind.

— Gabrielle Peters

Barclay et Cyndie, Centrafrique – ATD Quart Monde

Introduction | Herman Van Breen, International Policy and Advocacy Officer, International Movement ATD Fourth World

For 30 years, the UN has recognized the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty on 17 October as an occasion for people who have lived in persistent poverty to speak out and be heard as actors of change and human rights. On 17 October 2021, the commemoration at the UN in New York was marked by this short video, where Barclay from Central African Republic who took the initiative and decided on the scenario, images and the message that protecting the earth and those who suffer from persistent poverty must go hand-in-hand.

The Paris Agreement included the requirement to embed climate action in poverty eradication and the Glasgow Climate Pact recognizes the need to ensure just transition that promotes sustainable development and eradication of poverty.

It is urgent to translate these commitments into recommendations, guidelines, rules, mandates, procedures, financing and evaluation mechanisms related to climate change. This is indeed urgent as we continue to give a green light to foreign powers to impoverish its natural resources and its population, as it is in Central African Republic and elsewhere.

Many of the families are still living in suffering because of the disaster… We must unite, listen to each other, work together for the future of our children and of all of us.

— Barclay

Herman Kumara | Head, National Fisheries Solidarity Movement (NAFSO), Sri Lanka

Calling from Sri Lanka, Herman also represents the World Forum of Fishers People whose members come from fishing communities.

Fishing is one of the worst hit due to climate crisis, as one of the major threats to our lives is extreme weather conditions, such as cyclones in Asia and the Pacific.

Our people face displacement, property destruction and our houses are being washed away. We are losing our fishing gears which will have serious effects on our livelihoods because once something decides to happen there is no proper compensation process by the States, who are responsible for these types of measures. People continue to remain in camps for the internally displaced for long periods of time without having proper mechanisms to resettle in safer places with proper food, water facilities, basic needs, electricity and so on. The education of children have also been affected.

Apart from the sea level rise due to climate change, sea erosion due to water’s invasion into land is affecting coastal communities, losing our fishing gear and our homes. We became climate victims without having adequate compensation

Moreover, a vast number of people are being displaced because of marine protected areas. Decisions on the matter come from the top, without proper consultation and dialogue, and without having free prior and informed consent about these so-called development activities among fishing communities.

There are historical reasons of this: imperialism and colonialism have caused serious damage and are the major reasons behind all these. How far States are ready to address this issue is one of the biggest problems. They need to be accountable.

In 2014, one of the major achievements was to address these issues as a global fisher community because fisher people are the worst affected with this climate crisis. There are the voluntary guidelines for small scale fishing. They propose the disaster risk reduction and climate change mitigations in fishing communities, based on the human rights approach. We urge from the expert panel to consider how we make our States to be accountable.

Violet Misika | Tara Agriculture camp, Kalonda Ward, Zambia

Traveling from her village, Violet speaks from the CARE Zambia office. A single woman and mother of seven, she has stayed in her community, in the town of Kalomo for about 52 years. She speaks on specific experiences of climate change impacts and human rights.

In recent years I have seen the change in the rainy season which used to start from early November to December. Nowadays it starts in late November to mid-December. This implies a shorter farming season and low production in our community. Rivers which used to flow nearly every year throughout the year, nowadays finishes between March and April. As a result, we do not have enough food.

Another problem we face is that, as women and girls in our tradition, we fetch out to get water to use in the family. Nowadays, people are struggling to get drinking water in the few water points.

The future of my children and ultimately of the community is uncertain because of the factors I have mentioned, due to the climate change. Therefore, we report these to the government and other partners who have come to our aid by promoting climate change programs, like what CARE does for our community by in investing water harvesting, constructing open communal dams that can benefit both human and livestock, protect forest and water sources. We also help the community in adaptation through livelihood income generation activities especially for women.

Panel Discussion

 

Special Rapporteur on Climate Change, Ian Fry

Video

In addition to the live WebEx and social media transmissions, the video of the event is available on this webpage.

Documents

Links