Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural, and Environmental Rights
Washington D.C. - In the context of the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP 28) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) calls on States to commit to necessary and fair strategies to confront climate change and its negative impacts. It is crucial to incorporate a human rights perspective in all negotiations, policies, and related actions.
To achieve effective and lasting solutions to climate change, it is essential to ensure adequate climate finance and encourage the active participation of civil society, impacted communities, academia, national human rights institutions, and multilateral entities. This requires building a new international architecture that addresses the financing challenges of mitigation and adaptation with ambitious goals, within a framework of transparency and accountability. It is crucial to incorporate the principles of intergenerational equity in climate finance, reforming global economic governance and improving public finance systems for sustainable development and climate action.
REDESCA reiterates that, as established with the IACHR in Resolution 3/21 on the climate emergency and human rights in the Americas, it is necessary to consider climate change as a human rights emergency, highlighting its impact on the health of ecosystems and the enjoyment of human rights by present and future generations. Accordingly, States must align climate negotiations with their human rights obligations, ensuring that climate action policies are designed and implemented in a way that respects and promotes their guarantee.
This is especially important considering that the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has indicated that global temperatures are likely to reach unprecedented levels in the next five years. Thus, there is a 66% probability that, between 2023 and 2027, the annual average global near-surface temperature will exceed pre-industrial levels by more than 1.5°C for at least one year, and a 98% probability that at least one of the next five years, as well as the five-year period as a whole, will be among the warmest ever recorded. This increase in temperature is attributed to greenhouse gases and the natural phenomenon of El Niño, whose potential development over the next few months could cause a further spike in global warming and increase the chances of record-breaking temperatures.
In this scenario, it should be noted that the effects of climate change and environmental degradation are particularly serious for those populations that are in a situation of special vulnerability or historical discrimination and that contribute very marginally to greenhouse gas emissions, such as women, children and adolescents, indigenous peoples, people of African descent and people living in rural areas or living in poverty.
In view of this, REDESCA is particularly concerned that, despite the evident signs of urgency for decisive action, the spaces for discussion of measurable and permanent solutions are increasingly reduced. Despite the evident urgency, civil society organizations, affected communities and vulnerable States face significant obstacles to effective participation. It has also been argued that the urgent needs of societies, communities and countries that will be most affected by the climate emergency are not being met by the financial commitments made by high-emission States. Thus, various organizations have indicated that the financing mechanisms currently proposed are not delivering the expected results, and have called for efforts to focus on large-scale debt cancellation for all countries in need across all creditors, the adoption of responsible lending and borrowing policies, and a substantial increase in climate finance, with a preference for grants.
Given the common but differentiated obligations of States in climate action, REDESCA emphasizes the need to implement sustainable development strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and mitigate the risks of climate change. It also stresses the importance of reaching concrete agreements for a gradual energy transition away from fossil fuels. This transition must include a focus on social justice and equity, aligning with global efforts for effective climate finance and just transitions. In addition, the Office emphasizes the importance of incorporating a human rights approach into financial systems associated with sustainable development and climate management. This includes securing permanent funds to finance the losses and damages caused by climate change, paying special attention to the people and communities most affected.
The Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights is an office created by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to strengthen the promotion and protection of economic, social, cultural and environmental rights in the Americas, leading the Commission's efforts in this area.
A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their respective countries of origin or residence.