Human rights and global environmental change: What UNESCO did in 2012-2013

UNESCO contributed to the Human Rights Council seminar on human rights and climate change (23-24 February 2012), a summary report of which was presented at the June 2012 session of the Council and made available to the 18th session of the Conference of Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP18). UNESCO’s contribution emphasized in particular the human rights implications of equitable sharing of knowledge and technology relating to climate change, in light of the Article 27(1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In addition, throughout its Programme for Social and Human Sciences, the Organization has been considering the practical human rights implications of climate change in selected regions through a focus on the forms and consequences of differential vulnerability in the face of environmental pressures.

In Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal two studies were carried out on the impact of climate change and global environmental change on the rights of migrants. The studies led to a series of policy recommendations which were endorsed by the participating decision-makers. In Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, UNESCO worked with national and international partners to raise awareness on migration as a consequence of environmental degradation through pilot research and seminars in both countries. The activity placed special emphasis on health and economic aspects of environmental change that spur migration, the need for stakeholders to engage proactively in communities to understand environmental migration dynamics, provide information to citizens regarding environmental conditions and resources available, and work to integrate migrants into receiving communities where necessary.

As part of efforts to chart a new course for Small Island Developing States (SIDS) within the post-2015 UN development agenda, UNESCO, in partnership with other UN agencies, regional organisations and youth organisations, has supported during 2013 a series of SIDS Youth workshops. Special focus was placed on human rights concerns relating to environmental issues, as well as on the needs of groups in situation of vulnerability, including persons with disabilities.

Within the framework of UNESCO’s Jose Marti Project a Symposium “For a culture of Nature” was organized during the Third International Conference “Por el equilibrio del mundo” (Havana, Cuba, January 2013) that focused on the ethical and humanist dimensions of global environmental changes in Caribbean SIDS.

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