Climate change and human rights

One of the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan
Latin America

The threat posed by climate change in Latin America is growing ever stronger. Scientists predict a dramatic reduction in freshwater availability due to rapidly melting glaciers, degraded water-capturing ecosystems, and increasingly erratic weather patterns.

Storms and flooding are destroying an increasing number of homes and crops. Rising seas will destroy ecosystems and coastal settlements, as well as decimate the fish populations that feed coastal communities. Droughts and wildfires will intensify, making access to food and housing more difficult, and increasing the spread of heat- and vector-borne illness.

Combined, these impacts will have a profound effect on fundamental human rights, including the rights to a healthy environment, food, water, housing, and a dignified life.

In 2011 AIDA released a report, A Human Crisis: Climate Change and Human Rights in Latin America, in which we described the effects of climate change and how they will harm the enjoyment of human rights in the region. In March of the same year, we presented the report to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) with the goal of helping the Commission investigate the link between climate change and human rights. That December, the report was presented to delegates from various nations during the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa.

AIDA actively participates in the climate negotiations to ensure that human rights are clearly respected in all climate actions. Together with partner organizations, we have formed the Human Rights and Climate Change Working Group. We embarked on the joint effort so that the new climate accord signed in Paris would include the respect, protection, promotion and fulfillment of human rights. While human rights are not mentioned in the agreement's operating text, the preamble stresses the importance of protecting them.

But our work did not end in Paris. The inclusion of human rights in the new climate accord is merely the first step. From the day the agreement was signed, we continued working to ensure that it is properly implemented, and that human rights are universally respected in climate actions around the world. 

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