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- 13 November 2015Read more
Last week I wrote about how the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights found multiple links between climate change and how its effects stand to violate human rights, particularly by those already living in poverty. One of those links is the threat climate change poses to the right to water.
1 in 10 people lack access to safe water, and 1 in 3 people lack access to a toilet. More people have mobile phones than a toilet. According to the World Economic Forum in January 2015, the water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society.
Floods, droughts, changes in temperate and extreme fluctuations are already creating challenges for so many people in the world. This will result in increased water scarcity, contamination, and spread of diseases.
In many countries, women and girls carry the responsibility for collecting water for drinking, washing, cooking, cleaning, and living. In our world today, nearly one billion people already lack access to safe drinking water, and 2.5 billion lack access to adequate sanitation. Climate change is only going to make weather conditions more volatile, and threaten more people’s rights to water and sanitation.
The UN defines the right to water as “the right of everyone to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water for personal and domestic use.” This also includes the right to sanitation: “In all spheres of life everyone has the right to physical and economic access to sanitation which is safe, hygienic, secure, socially and culturally acceptable, provides privacy and ensures dignity.”
Despite this reality and the certainty that the right to water for so many stands to be at threat under climate change, water has not been considered seriously enough in climate change negotiations.
A UN position paper argued for change at the 2009 Climate Change Conference: A set of recommendations were laid out, including the “recognition of the pivotal role of water, including its human rights dimensions, in adapting to climate change in order to increase resilience and achieve sustainable development.” It is time we adopt those recommendations and take a serious look at the humanitarian effects of climate change.
In order to properly brace for the effects climate change will have on humanity, we need a comprehensive picture of what that looks like. The right to water is the first of a series of six blogs I will share with you as the Paris conference quickly approaches. I will continue to look at how climate change is a threat to other human rights over the next few weeks, and welcome your feedback.
- 4 November 2015Read more
On November 30th, the United Nations Climate Change Conference will begin in Paris. The purpose of the meetings, that will occur over two weeks, is to assess the progress made on combating climate change, and to work to set new goals. Over the next few weeks leading up to the conference, I hope to amplify an important part of the conversation on climate change: to stress how climate change is a human rights issue.
Typically discussions around climate change revolve around the economy, environment, and science. These are all necessary conversations. But more and more information from these spheres demands that we the question: how will this all impact us as humans?
Some studies have been done already, including by the Pentagon who called climate change a security issue, and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights who found multiple links between climate change and how its effects stand to violate human rights, particularly by those already living in poverty.
We know the effects of climate change are inevitable. And we know they will be seen in a multitude of ways: food scarcity and water scarcity could be tipping points for mass migration, extreme weather will destroy homes and cities, and shifts in landforms will change agricultural production and demands. The list goes on and on.
Over the next few weeks leading up to the Paris Conference, I hope to amplify the voices of those who are vulnerable to climate change’s impacts. I will explore a few dimensions of how climate change is a human rights issue. I hope we can remind all delegations going to Paris that we are not just talking about the economy or the environment, as important as those both are: we are talking about humanity.
Stay tuned for my weekly blog posts on the different ways climate change will impact human rights. You will also see updates on my Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. I encourage you to talk about this with each other, and also welcome your feedback, thoughts, and concerns.