Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change

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The UNESCO Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change solemnly expresses the concern of UNESCO Member States that climate change could create morally unacceptable damage and injustice.

Some 195 states joined a UNESCO Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change on 14 November 2017, when meeting in Paris at the 39th session of UNESCO’s General Conference. They called for global partners to mobilize around these principles.

This Declaration sets out a shortlist of the globally-agreed ethical principles that should guide decision-making and policy-making at all levels and help mobilize people to address climate change. The ethical guidance of this UNESCO Declaration is supposed to complement states’ other multilateral efforts including negotiated commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and scientific assessments organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Among other things, the new Declaration advocates that “prevention of harm” is one of the important ethical principles in relation to climate change. To comply with it, people should aim to “anticipate, avoid or minimize harm, wherever it might emerge, from climate change, as well as from climate mitigation and adaptation policies and actions.”

Among the other ethical principles, one is exclusively about “scientific knowledge and integrity in decision-making”. It says that “decisions should be based on, and guided by, the best available knowledge from the natural and social sciences”. It adds that states should “take measures which help protect and maintain the independence of science and the integrity of the scientific process”.

Other ethical principles identified are: solidarity, sustainability, justice and equity and a precautionary approach. This declaration builds on the previous work of UNESCO on the ethical principles in relations to climate change.

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