The Third Generation Project

Commentary

A blog for weekly commentaries by TGP staff, affiliated writers and guests.

Climate Change is a Human Rights Issue

Welcome to the first of our weekly commentaries!

Each week, members of the Third Generation Project team, affiliated staff, and guest writers will open a door to the stories that we believe are key to shaping the policy responses to the human rights implications of climate change. It is an established fact that climate change is happening, our planet is warming, our seas are rising, our weather patterns are becoming more extreme. However, many ignore the critical impacts that these changes are having upon human rights across the globe. We at the Third Generation Project hope to bring more attention to these impacts and their underlying causes.

"...many ignore the critical impacts that these changes are having upon human rights across the globe."

Aligning environmental change with human rights may seem like an extreme position, and one that only serves to highlight ‘liberal’ scaremongering. After all, even policymakers systematically ignore the 'human rights' implications of climate change, and focus only upon the 'security threat' that such human rights violations create - a stance that, although it highlights just how important climate change is, can also lead to a securitised, or militarised, response against already marginalised populations.  

But frontline communities have already seen lives lost, their lands disappear, and access to food and water threatened. The global situation is already one of extreme threat. The actions of policymakers are too little, too late. We must address human rights when talking about climate change.

"...frontline communities have already seen lives lost, their lands disappear, and access to food and water threatened."

At the Third Generation Project, we believe that, in dealing with global environmental change, it is frontline communities whose priorities should come first: their voices the ones heard above all others; their experiences and knowledge those that are prioritised. Such communities are already battling the fatal impacts of climate change on a daily basis; it is a harrowing reality that the majority will eventually have to deal with too.

"We must address human rights when talking about climate change."

Too often, the policy solutions that are proposed – by policymakers, practitioners and academics – have been put together with little or no input from those who know best: the communities already dealing with frontline environmental change. It is these communities that currently bear the brunt of the environmental damage that results from a system in which they have little say. Universities have played their part, and continue to, in this ongoing marginalisation by prioritising some voices over others, some knowledges over others, some approaches over others.

This cannot go on. The Third Generation Project, as an organisation, hopes to help bring attention to the issues that are key to gaining a greater – and fuller – understanding – of what climate change means for communities across the globe.

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Ali Watson