A Climate Justice Dialogue in Geneva

On the eve of the Ad Hoc Working Group on the Durban Platform for Enhanced Action (ADP) 2.8, over 50 representatives from the climate change and human rights constituencies gathered in Geneva to strengthen the links between human rights and climate change

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and Mary Robinson, President, Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice, co-hosted the “Climate Justice Dialogue“ on February 07 which brought people together in an informal setting to enable and strengthen relationships.

Over the last years, the Human Rights Council has made efforts to address the links between human rights and climate change explicitly through resolutions in the Human Rights Council. The United Nations Framework on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has also addressed the issue in the Cancun Agreements within the Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) processes. 

As ADP 2.8 was being hosted in the home of the Human Rights Council, it was fitting that seven permanent Representatives to the UN in Geneva alongside two Permanent Representatives to the UN in New York attended the climate justice dialogue with climate change negotiators representing 15 countries. Civil Society actors and academics who are active on the issues also attended, including representatives of CARE International, CIEL, Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Earthjustice, Human Rights Watch, International Bar Association, London School of Economics, University of Lapland, Universal Rights Group, Quaker United Nations Office and Women’s Environment and Development Organisation (WEDO).

The group gathered in six learning circles, which enabled people to participate as equals in a safe space for constructive and open dialogue.

Speaking at the opening of the Climate Justice Dialogue, Deputy High Commissioner Flavia Pansieri highlighted the increasing awareness of the impacts of climate change on human rights, saying that there was a need to make sure that the discussion on climate change is not misunderstood as a technical discussion but that it is a discussion about vulnerable people and moral principles.

She was joined by Mary Robinson who reminded the guests that, through collaboration and mutual support, they have the capacity and the influence to affect meaningful positive change for both people and the planet.

The event was informed by a panel discussion which explored how both constituencies could work more closely together on a climate justice approach to the Paris 2015 agreement and beyond. The panel was moderated by Mary Robinson and panelists included:

  • Christiana Figueres, Executive Secretary, Climate Change Secretariat
  • Flavia Pansieri, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Joachim Rücker, President of the Human Rights Council and Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Germany to the United Nations Office

Following the panel, the focus turned to learning circles where participants took the opportunity to listen to, and learn from, each other.

Mary Robinson invited all involved to enjoy the dialogue as  conversation shared with friends and in this spirit, the guests discussed their common purpose and explored possible ways in which they could work more closely together.

As the evening drew to an end, Flavia Pansieri and Mary Robinson both encouraged the guests to continue to engage with each other and bring a people centred focus to climate actions.

Mary Robinson concluded the meeting by saying:

“This year we have the opportunity to set the world on a path to a stable climate and the realisation of equal opportunities for all. This is an opportunity that we must seize together.” 


The announcement of the Geneva Pledge in the closing pleneary of the ADP in Geneva (35:13)

The Geneva Pledge on Human Rights in CLimate Action (hosted by the  Republic of Costa Rica)

Briefing Paper for the Climate Justice Dialogue, co-hosted by OHCHR and MRFCJ, 7 February 2015

Human Rights and Climate Justice

Geneva to play host to crucial negotiations on the road to COP 21 in Paris

Human Rights Day 2014 – Human Rights Matter for Climate Action

MRFCJ Position Paper on Human Rights and Climate Justice