Contributing to the new mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur on Climate Change and Human Rights

Mitchell Lennan

In June 2022, the One Ocean Hub responded to a call for input by the newly mandated UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection on human rights in the context of climate change, Mr Ian Fry. The call was on the topic ‘Promotion and protection of human rights in the context of mitigation, adaptation and financial actions to address climate change, with particular emphasis on loss and damage’. Hub researchers Alana Lancaster (University of West Indies), Mitchell Lennan and Elisa Morgera (University of Strathclyde) contributed to the submission, which builds on ongoing Hub research on the human rights-ocean-climate nexus (see here, here and here). Drawing from the Hub’s experience, the evidence:

  • highlighted the issue of ocean-grabbing in the Caribbean and stressed that the terms ‘economic’ and ‘non-economic’ loss and damage actually refer to major threats to basic human rights and should be viewed as such;
  • raised the impacts of climate change on children’s rights in the context of the ocean climate nexus (see here and here), and the need to address the lack of attention on this topic by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As well as the importance of upholding the participatory rights of children in international processes and fora;
  • argued that a rights-based approach could serve as a catalyst for accelerated action to mitigate and adapt to climate change and provide finance to do so, while showing benefits in terms of policy coherence and support for multiple Sustainable Development Goals for donor countries in the context of marine biodiversity and climate change (see here and here);
  • demonstrated the importance of community-led vulnerability assessments, community-led ecosystem restoration, and use of inclusive and participatory arts-based research to engage in transformative public dialogue and prevent conflict in the context of supporting States in facilitating redress for ocean-dependent communities vulnerable to climate change;
  • showcased international legal and policy approaches to protect current and future generations and achieve intergenerational justice for ocean-dependent communities. Including the development by Hub Researcher Giulia LaBianca of a standard framework on deep-sea ecosystem services and understanding how these services can advance understanding on loss and damage at the ocean-climate nexus; and
  • recommended opportunities for States to contribute to implement the UNFCCC and the Paris Agreement through ocean-based climate action that are built upon a mutually supportive interpretation of international biodiversity law, the law of the sea, and international human rights law with a view to achieving co-benefits across different Sustainable Development Goals and reduce vulnerabilities (see here)