RIHR - Signal

A human rights-based approach for community adaptation to climate change

The Romanian Institute for Human Rights participated, on February 3, in the webinar themed ”A human rights-based approach for community adaptation to climate change”, organized by Human Right 2 Water.

On this occasion, the United Nations World Water Development Report 2020, Water and Climate Change was discussed, which stated, among others, that: “Climate change affects ecosystems, human societies and economies in a variety of ways, and water is the primary medium through which these impacts are felt”. 

Another approached topic regarded how the effects of the climate crisis are typically felt the hardest by the most vulnerable. Thus, it was highlighted the necessity for a fair and equitable distribution of water that requires a human rights-based approach to relevant legislation and methodologies, that promotes inclusion, non-discrimination, participation, exchange of experience and data, and accountability of decision-makers.

The participants analyzed instruments and case studies on how local communities can access climate adaptation solutions, as well as the effects of climate change at regional and global levels, especially on access to drinking water. The need for a more inclusive management of the right to water was also discussed, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation highlighted the link between climate adaptation and human rights.

During the three sessions of the webinar solutions for local water management were presented, as well as proposals from communities in different parts of the world for climate adaptation. The situation of the least developed countries, which are the most vulnerable, was also tackled, being stated that 50% of the poorest countries in the world are responsible for less than 5% of greenhouse gas emissions, while they are the victims of major polluters (developed countries) and their rights are being violated.

The reprezentative of the World Meteorological Organization presented global warming figures for the period between 1851-2020, emphasizing the impact of river warming on ecosystems and also on water quality. In addition, Green Climate Fund presented ways to adapt to extreme weather and showcased the results of a project implemented in the Comoro Islands, through climate funds, mentioning that this island country has been affected in a very short time by two consecutive cyclones.

In the session of recommendations and debates that followed, RIHR representatives reiterated the conclusion presented in Institute’s recent publication – ”Climate Change and its impact on human rights”, that there is a global trend to postpone long-term policies on managing and preventing climate change, because the climate crisis is often perceived as a phenomenon that will occur in the distant future. But as experts in the field have shown, it is happening right now and is directly or indirectly affecting more and more fundamental rights and freedoms. That is why long-term national, regional and global climate policies are imperious and must respond to the real needs of the communities, according to the specific economic, social and cultural conditions of each country, all while taking into account the respect for human rights.

In the end, it was concluded that it is necessary to integrate climate action into several sectors of activity as well as to address the climate crisis and the allocation of resources from the perspective of promoting and respecting human rights.


Participating experts: Pedro Arrojo-Agudo (UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights to safe drinking water and sanitation), Roula Majdalani (ESCWA), Johannes Cullman (WMO), Professor Saleemul Huq (ICCCAD and Independent University Bangladesh), Ania Grobicki (Green Climate Fund), Afef Tlili (Minerva Consulting), Dhesigen Naidoo (Human Right 2 Water, WRC and Presidential Climate Change Coordinating Commission),  Amanda Loeffen, moderator (Human Right 2 Water).

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