Time for Countries to Step Up and Follow the Leadership of the CVF to Protect Rights

From the Maldives to Costa Rica, Senegal to the Marshall Islands, communities and Indigenous peoples of countries that are members of the Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)  live on the front lines of climate impacts. More so than any other governments, members of the CVF are very much aware of the unprecedented threat that inaction on climate change poses for human rights - not just for people under their jurisdiction, but for all nations. Rising sea levels, warming temperatures and changing weather patterns already undermine the realization of a wide range of human rights including the rights to life, water, food, adequate housing, culture, and self-determination. These impacts further reinforce existing structural discrimination and violence. Moreover, inadequate support and mitigation policies by the largest emitters exacerbate these impacts further with every additional delay. That is why CVF has also been championing the 1.5°C limit.

Instead of withdrawing in despair, these countries have risen to the challenge and demonstrated unmatched leadership by developing climate policies that are in line with the best available science. Since its creation, the CVF has championed ambitious climate policies by placing human dignity at the core of its ambition.

This leadership was on display again when the Marshall Islands, just shortly before the COP25, communicated a Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) truly in line with the objectives and principles of the Paris Agreement to contribute to keeping temperature increase below 1.5ºC, by implementing rights-based climate action. And their leadership does not end there. On the first day of the COP25, President Heine of the Marshall Islands called, on behalf of all 48 CVF members, for the establishment of a UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and Climate Change, pledging US$50000 to support this work. From supporting governments with the development of rights-based climate policies, to helping frontline communities identify effective remedies to deal with climate impacts; the need for such a Special Rapporteur is obvious and the task awaiting it crucial.

That the most impacted countries have had to resort to pledging their scarce tax-payers’ money to accelerate the establishment of such a mandate should be a wake up call for developed and main emitting countries to take responsibility and fulfill their international commitments to cooperate for the universal realization of human rights.

We welcome the leadership of the CVF and call upon other countries to follow its leadership by developing rights-based NDCs in line with the goal of keeping temperature increase below 1.5ºC, and to commit to the establishment of a Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Climate Change in 2020.

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