Canada's Original Think Tank

Climate Change and the Right to Housing

Climate Change and the Right to Housing

Climate Change and the Right to Housing


Published on 4 December 2015
by Senator Mobina Jaffer

Check out the infographic below

This week the Paris Conference on Climate Change has begun. For all those who are attending, many logistical plans went into their trip. One of which was inevitable was where they would stay during their trip.

For so many people in our world, having a place to stay is not a guarantee.

The UN recognized that international law sees adequate housing as a human right: “International human rights law recognizes everyone’s right to an adequate standard of living, including adequate housing.

Despite the central place of this right within the global legal system, well over a billion people are not adequately housed. Millions around the world live in life- or health threatening conditions, in overcrowded slums and informal settlements, or in other conditions which do not uphold their human rights and their dignity. Further millions are forcibly evicted, or threatened with forced eviction, from their homes every year.”

The threat of climate change holds the potential to make this bad situation even worse, and could trigger a global housing crisis. To think that the current refugee crisis is a dire situation is to underplay what the potential effects will be with climactic shifts.

Extreme weather events around the world have already resulted in the displacement of thousands of people globally. The numbers are going to climb, and fast. The threat of mass displacement is so extreme that the UN has already begun referring to “climate change refugees”.

For those who think this is only going to be a crisis in sub-Saharan Africa, they are deeply mistaken. This is going to also impact adequate housing in Canada as well. As the current refugee crisis is demonstrating, these situations impact the entire world. The global community will be forced to respond, and like any event we have seen that has resulted in catastrophe, the best approach is the one that reduces the possible damages in the first place.

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 adequate housing is the fourth of a series of six blogs I will share with you given the ongoing Paris conference on Climate Change. It is essential that the right to adequate housing and how the global community will prepare for potential mass displacement be discussed at the conference.

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.

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