Contributing views on future work of the Just Transition Work Programme of the UN Climate Change Convention and the 2024 Bonn Ocean-Climate Dialogue 

In February 2024, we collaborated with the Human Rights and Climate Change Working Group in preparing a joint submission on views on the work to be undertaken and the possible topics for the dialogues under the Just Transition Work Programme, which was established at the UN Climate COP28. The Hub contributions focused on small-scale fishers’ human rights, children’s human rights, and broader human rights concerns at the ocean-climate nexus. In addition, we made two proposals for the 2024 Bonn Ocean-Climate Dialogue. 

Joint submission on Just Transition 

The COP28 decision establishing the Just Transition Work Programme acknowledged that Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) have to respect, promote and consider their respective human rights obligations in the context of climate action. The Human Rights and Climate Change Working Group made a joint Submission in March 2024 aimed to clarify that the international human rights framework provides UNFCCC Member States and other stakeholders with tools to set clear priorities for the Work Programme, including the need for a redress of grievance mechanism to prevent human rights violations before they occur.  The Joint Submission included sections on:

  • Proposed Thematic Priorities: 

a) Equality and non-discrimination: implementation of an intersectional and intergenerational approach

b) Gender equality and women’s and girls’ rights

c) Human Rights of Indigenous Peoples

d) Protection of children’s human rights

e) Mobilisation of maximum available resources

f) Phase-out of fossil fuels and a Just Transition to renewable energy

g) Individual and collective labour rights

h) Public services and universal social security

i) Land, ocean, agriculture, and food systems

j) Private actors and corporate accountability

k) Access to information, participation, and justice

l) Protection of human rights defenders

  •  Recommendations on working methods: Institutional participatory arrangements; Synthesis of knowledge and development of guidance; Articulation of different UNFCCC work streams; and Identification of challenges to the implementation of Just Transition strategies 

Hub’s contribution 

The One Ocean Hub included in the Joint submission, recommendations to: 

  • define Just Transition pathways consistent with gender equality principles, ​including at the ocean-climate nexus​; 
  • recognize and value the traditional knowledge and expertise of women, and especially Indigenous women and women in ​peasant and small-scale fishing communities;​ 
  • subject just transition policies and projects proposed to be carried out on Indigenous Peoples’ lands and territories to their Free​,​ Prior and Informed Consent​, flanked by environmental and socio-cultural impact assessments and fair and equitable benefit-sharing, ​ as required by international human rights law
  • adopt this as a thematic priority to foster the opportunity to explore the potential of ​co-development, ​co-ownership and co-management approaches with Indigenous Peoples, as well as ​the co-development of ​new sustainable technologies implemented with the Free​,​ Prior and Informed Consent​, supported by environmental and socio-cultural impact assessments and fair and equitable benefit-sharing,​ of the impacted Indigenous Peoples; 
  • ​​​consider the environment-dependent human rights and distinctive knowledge systems of peasants and small-scale fishers, including the need to ensure environmental and socio-cultural impact assessments, free prior informed consent, and fair and equitable benefit-sharing with them;​​ 
  • consider that a healthy environment is in itself part of the “resources available” to ensure the protection of human rights, so Just Transition approaches should ensure the maximum protection of the human right to a healthy environment (considering all its substantive dimensions: ​clean air, a safe and stable climate, healthy ecosystems and biodiversity, safe and sufficient water, healthy and sustainable food and non-toxic environments);​ 
  • deliver a fast, comprehensive, just, equitable, and full shift away from fossil fuel production and use without reliance on ​unproven technologies that can negatively impact the environment, leading to further human rights violations, and act as ​dangerous distractions (e.g. carbon capture and storage, geoengineering, ​ocean carbon dioxide removal, ​reliance on carbon credits of dubious climate value and often associated with needed investments in renewable and sustainable energy models and technology) and/or​ that have negative impacts on biodiversity and contribute to toxic pollution;​ 
  • ​​play a leading role in steering a conversation on Just Transition policies in fisheries, keeping in mind that large-scale fisheries also lead to significant negative impacts in terms of climate change, as well as biodiversity loss;​ 
  • shape the role of the private sector within the context of the just transition respecting the human right to a healthy environment, including children’s human right to a healthy environment; and 
  • contribute to raise awareness about the need to protect environmental human rights defenders, including ocean defenders

The Hub’s contributions built on previous work on a just transition and human rights, as well as the Hub research and submissions to international tribunals on human rights obligations on climate change at the ocean-climate nexus. 

2024 Bonn Ocean-Climate Dialogue 

On 20 March 2024, we submitted suggestions to the co-facilitators of the 2024 Ocean-Climate Dialogue on two topics to be covered during the Bonn Climate Conference in June 2024:  

  • ocean-based carbon dioxide removal be discussed from both a nature-based and technological focus, taking into account the scientific and policy concerns identified by the Human Rights Council’ Advisory Committee Report on the impact of new climate technologies on human rights with regard to the social consequences of these technologies that would like be “uneven geographically” with “harsher [effects] on poorer States and the Global South”, thereby “strengthen[ing] entrenched inequalities and deepen climate injustice.”  
  • ocean-based climate action in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction, including the high seas and the deep seabed, taking into account that it is often incorrectly assumed that Parties’ NDCs are territorially limited and Parties cannot include or report on mitigation and adaptation actions in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (Morgera and Lennan, 2023). Instead, it seems crucial to reflect on the connectivity of the ocean, its marine ecosystems and the most recent research on their contributions to global climate regulation, in the context of the global nature of the Paris Agreement. In this connection, we recommend that the discussion extend to applicable international law such as the 2023 BBNJ Agreement and its novels obligations and institutions to clarify their relevance to global and national efforts on climate change. 

For both topics, the Hub recommended considering mitigation and adaptation co-benefits, and consider other areas of applicable international law, such as international human rights law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and its 2023 General Comment No 26 on Children’s Rights and the Environment, with a Focus on Climate Change, the Convention on Biological Diversity and the 2023 Agreement under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biological Diversity of Areas beyond National Jurisdiction (BBNJ Agreement).  

Drawing from Hub’s research on ocean-biodiversity-climate nexus and our experience in participating at the  Bonn Ocean-Climate Dialogue, the Hub is also working with the Working Group on Children’s Rights and the Environment in strategising and planning in June 2024.  

Illustration: Margherita Brunori

Related SDGs:

  • Good health and well-being
  • Reduced inequality
  • Climate action
  • Life below water