Countries’ obligations under international human rights law are well established. These include the obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights, which are applicable in the context of climate change.
Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognize that they must respect human rights—including procedural rights—in all climate-related actions. As early as 1992, when countries negotiated the UNFCCC in Rio de Janeiro, the right to public participation and the principle of sustainable development were high on the political agenda, as reflected in the Rio Declaration of the same conference. Since then, the UNFCCC, the UN Human Rights Council, and other bodies have helped to further develop and clarify the legal obligations related to climate change.
Yet, as this policy brief demonstrates through various case studies, these obligations have not been fully operationalized in the development and implementation of climate mitigation actions.
In the aftermath of Paris, and the Parties’ most recent recognition of the linkage between human rights and climate change, the UNFCCC has a renewed mandate to ensure that human rights are taken into account in all climate actions. The preamble to the Paris Agreement provides that “Parties should, when taking action to address climate change, respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, the right to health, the rights of indigenous peoples, local communities, migrants, children, persons with disabilities and people in vulnerable situations and the right to development, as well as gender equality, empowerment of women and intergenerational equity.”
This policy brief reflects on the obligations of States to protect human rights and promote sustainable development and analyzes lessons learned from past mitigation actions and projects, as a means to inform and strengthen future mitigation policies and mechanisms such as the newly established sustainable development mechanism.
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| To this end, this report offers the following recommendations: