Climate change is a major global issue of common concern to the international community. It is also one of the greatest threats to human rights of our time. The impacts of climate change, the unsustainable management and use of natural resources, the pollution of air, land and water, the resulting loss of biodiversity and the decline in services provided by ecosystems, preclude a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment which is integral to the full enjoyment of a vast range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and development. At the same time, the exercise of human rights, including the rights to information, participation, and remedy, is vital to the protection of the environment and for mitigation of the impacts of climate change.

States have a human rights obligation to prevent the foreseeable adverse effects of climate change and ensure that those affected by it, particularly those in vulnerable situations, have access to effective remedies and means of adaptation to enjoy lives of human dignity. While steps have been taken by countries and the international community to enhance the protection of human rights in the face of climate change, the link between human rights and climate change is relatively recent.  Thus, in order to improve and support effective and human rights-driven climate action, greater awareness about the connection between  human rights and climate change is necessary.

Objectives

By providing a platform for discussion among relevant stakeholders, including government officials from ASEM partners, academic experts and members of civil society, the 21st Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights (ASEMHRS21) aims:

  • To contribute to a better understanding of the interplay between human rights and climate change
  • To develop recommendations for better integration of human rights in climate change policies and actions, as well as for strengthening human rights mechanisms for addressing environmental issues, including climate change
  • To encourage cooperation and peer-learning amongst ASEM Partner countries, civil society organisations (CSOs), academic experts, and national human rights institutions (NHRIs) by facilitating the sharing of good practices, innovative ideas and knowledge in the integration of human rights in climate change-related action.

The participation in the 21st Informal ASEM Seminar on Human Rights will take place in four simultaneous working group discussions on the following topics:

  1. Reinforcing socio-ecological resilience of communities through information and public participation
  2. Promoting the full enjoyment of human rights by all persons affected by climate change
  3. Green, equitable and inclusive: Innovative ideas on international cooperation to address the impacts of climate change on human rights
  4. Taking stock of national and international human rights regimes to protect against the consequences of climate change

Dr Sara Vigil, GED Research Fellow in SEI Asia, will be one of speakers in the Panel Discussion on Migration, Human Rights and Climate Change, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg.