Climate change, environment and human rights

By Geneva Interfaith Forum
28 Sep 2011

Call for action from the Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights

The Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights is an informal group of faith-based NGOs that gathered to reaffirm the responsibility of each faith and spiritual tradition to care for the environment and play a role in addressing climate change and its impact on the human rights of the world’s population.

Climate change is and will continue to cause disasters affecting every aspect of human life and nature. Peoples that have a strong and direct link to nature and those that are extremely dependent on their environment are particularly vulnerable, such as people living on small islands. Climate change also severely limits the development opportunities of poor countries, which lack the resources and technology to realise human rights progressively in a sustainable manner. The adverse impacts of climate change will, however, affect the whole world.

Thus, it is imperative that the international community and all sectors of civil society urgently mobilise to tackle the hurdles which obstruct adequate and equitable international action on climate change. It becomes vital to act to bring about the changes needed to generate rapid solutions to the consequences of climate change; the cost of delaying further responsible decision making will disrupt the social, economic, political and cultural life of peoples and nation states.

More coordinated action building is urgently needed, based on what has already been done. In this context it is important to recall that:

a) The UN Human Rights Council expressed with resolution A/HRC/RES/7/23 that “climate change poses an immediate and far reaching threat to people and communities around the world and has implications for the full enjoyment of human rights” and recognised that “climate change is a global problem requiring a global solution” and that “the effect of climate change will be felt most acutely by those segments of the population who are already in a vulnerable situation”. Furthermore this resolution requested the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to conduct a detailed analytical study of the relationship between climate change and human rights.

b) The resolution A/HRC/RES/10/4 decided that a panel discussion is to be held at its eleventh session on the relationship between climate change and human rights and,

c) The resolution A/HRC/RES/13/17 called for a Social Forum session that was held 4-6 October 2010 on the adverse effects of climate change on the full enjoyment of human rights that contributed positively to the debate.

It is our expectation that the Human Rights Council will ensure a follow-up of the actions taken in relation to climate change and human rights through the establishment of a new special procedure. The mandate should in particular entail a study on the responsibilities of States in the area of climate change, adaptation, mitigation, technology transfer and funding; research on the effect of climate change decision making on human rights, the reality of displaced peoples within national boundaries and internationally and suggest measures to be taken for the management of such situations.

As we prepare for the UNFCCC COP 17 in Durban, South Africa, during 2011, the Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights would like to join forces with the NGOs and Civil Society movements which are already working to ensure that future action taken on climate change takes human rights into account

We urge NGOs, civil society movements and government officials to engage in discussions with the aim of considering possible steps and concrete actions to be taken during the upcoming Human Rights Council sessions and other relevant forums.

Contacts:

Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKWSU)

Centre Catholique International de Genève (CCIG)

World Council of Churches (WCC)

Indigenous Peoples Ancestral Spiritual Council (CEAPI)

With the support of:

Coordenadoria Ecumênica de Serviço, Brazil (CESE– Ecumenical Coordination of Service)

Eldoret-gender based and Development Network (EldoGADNet), Kenya

Global Ethics

Franciscans International

Lutheran World Federation

North South XXI

United Evangelical Mission, Germany

Mouvement International d’Apostolat des Milieux Sociaux Indépendants (MIAMSI)

Zonta

International-Lawyers.org

Al Hakim Foundation

Worldwide Organisation for Women - WOW

World Young Women's Christian Association - World YWCA

International Federation of Women Lawyers – FIDA

Conseil International des Femmes – International Council of Women

Arab Lawyers Union

Union of Arab Jurists

General Arab Women’s Federation

Geneva International Center for Justice

Return to the Earth

Rencontre Africaine de Défense pour le Droit de l’Homme – RADDHO

Centre Commerce International pour le Développement – CCID

Association Apprentissage sans Frontières

Universal Esperanto Association – UEA

Espace Afrique International

Planetary Association for Clean Energy

OCAPROCE International

International Educational Development

International Sustainable Energy Organization

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom – WILPF

Women's World Summit Foundation – WWSF

CETIM

Ius Primi Viri

Pax Christi International

International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)

National Ethical Service

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