Climate Change Priorities on Health, Human Rights and Labor
On 9 February 2021, the Permanent Mission of Bangladesh in Geneva convened a virtual event entitled “Climate Change Priorities on Health, Human Rights and Labour”. The event was part of an effort by the Bangladesh Presidency of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) to strengthen the multilateral response to climate change from the key UN bodies and agencies based in Geneva. Home to international organizations such as the International Labour Organization, the World Health Organization and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the city is a strategic center to address the interlinkages between climate change and the key areas of health, human rights and labour.
CVF diplomats in Geneva and beyond connected to the event to engage a discussion with prominent representatives of these international organizations. The event was attended by more than 200 participants from all around the globe.
All the remarks delivered highlighted the interconnections between climate change and health, human rights and labor. On the topic of health, Ms. Saima Wazed, Member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on mental health and CVF Thematic Ambassador for Vulnerability, stated that “climate change and health is of course the most substantial public health crisis that we’re all experiencing right now“. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the WHO, announced that his organization “will produce a special report on climate change and health by COP26 that will provide an overview of the global knowledge, resources and tools on the interconnections between climate change and human health“.
Speaking to the question of human rights, H.E. Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Honorable Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, underlined that “climate change threatens the enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including those to life, water & sanitation, food, health, housing“. Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the OHCHR, spoke of the increased vulnerability of marginalized groups such as women and girls, people with disabilities and indigenous people. That is why, she said, “we must have an equitable sustainable recovery founded on equality, non-discrimination, participation, access to information and access to justice and accountability“. H.E. Mr. Samuel Lanwi, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in Geneva, urged for the establishment of a UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and Climate Change, saying “this will give communities like ours, on the frontline of the climate crisis, the chance to have the threats to our rights addressed by the international community“.
Finally, on the topic of labor, Ms. Martha E. Newton, Deputy Director-General for Policy of the International Labour Organization highlighted her organization’s Climate Action for Jobs Initiative, which is “designed to help countries with real solutions to tackle the twin challenge of climate change and decent work“. H.E. Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, Honorable Speaker of the People’s Majlis of the Maldives and CVF Thematic Ambassador for Ambition, expanded on the idea of Climate Prosperity Plans, emphasizing that vulnerable countries have the ambition not only to achieve prosperity, but also to be examples on how to do so in a sustainable, zero-carbon way. Such plans would also provide job opportunities, for example in the renewable energy sector.
All the interventions can be watched on YouTube, where the whole event was live-streamed.
The complete list of remarks is as follows:
- H. E. Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, M.P., Honorable Foreign Minister of Bangladesh
- Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization
- Ms. Nada Al-Nashif, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights of the OHCHR
- Ms. Martha E. Newton, Deputy Director-General for Policy of the International Labour Organization
- H.E. Mr. Mohamed Nasheed, Honorable Speaker of the People’s Majlis of the Maldives and CVF Thematic Ambassador for Ambition
- Ms. Saima Wazed Hossain, Member of the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on mental health and CVF Thematic Ambassador for Vulnerability
- H.E. Ms. Monique T.G. Van Daalen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Geneva
- H.E. Mr. Julian Braithwaite, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Geneva
- H.E. Mr. Gian Lorenzo Cornado, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Italy in Geneva
- H.E. Mr. Zenebe Kebede Korcho, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Ethiopia in Geneva
- H.E. Mr. Samuel Lanwi, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Republic of the Marshall Islands in Geneva
The discussion was moderated by H.E. Mr. Md. Mustafizur Rahman, the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Bangladesh in Geneva.
Interventions in the Q&A session included those of:
- H.E. Mr. Hans-Peter Jugel, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative of Germany in Geneva
- Dr. Saleemul Huq, Chair of the Expert Advisory Group for the Climate Vulnerable Forum and Senior Adviser on Locally Led Adaptation with Global Centre on Adaptation
- Ms. Francesca Mingrone of the Center for International Environmental Law
- Ms. Farah Kabir, Country Director of Action Aid Bangladesh