Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change
On 29th May, the Geneva Interfaith Forum on Climate Change, Environment and Human Rights hosted a round-table discussion on climate change, Rio+20 and human rights, in view of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro in June. The Forum is composed of Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (BKSWU), Franciscans International (FI), Indigenous Peoples Ancestral Spiritual Council (CEAPI), World Council of Churches (WCC), NGO Nord-Sud XXI, and International-Lawyers supported the event. The discussion revolved around two key issues: strengthening the position of human rights within the outcome document of the Rio+20 Conference, particularly in the context of climate change; and the need for a UN Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights.
After the Rio+20 Conference, the members of the Forum attended a strategy meeting organised by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung on 27 July, which included a discussion on the outcomes of Rio+20. Dissatisfaction with the final document “The Future We Want” has been expressed throughout civil society. The Forum’s position is that, though climate change was included, the emphasis afforded to it is seriously inadequate and the crucial human rights dimension is absent. The urgency of the threat of climate change is not reflected in the outcome document.
Now the focus shifts to the 21st session of the UN Human Rights Council in September 2012. The members of the Forum will continue to lobby HRC Member States to establish a Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights. Bangladesh and the Philippines are heavily involved in this issue and the aim is to persuade them to table a draft resolution which would create a relevant mandate for a new Special Rapporteur. A crucial challenge will be to get support for such a draft resolution from states across all regions.
The creation of a Special Rapporteur mandate on climate change and human rights must not be delayed. Ideally, such a Special Rapporteur will address the issues of both direct and indirect victims of human rights violations that occur as a result of climate change.