Constatino a farmer in the fragile ecosystem m of the high Andes in Bolivia has looked to the behavior of plants and animals to figure out what crops to grow and when. If reeds dried up in the late summer, rainless weather lay ahead, he believed. If the Andean fox made a howling appearance, abundant rains were thought sure to come.
But increasingly erratic weather that scientists attribute to global warming is rendering their age-old methods less reliable, endangering harvests in a region where life is hard in the best of times.
Climate change impact is a moral issue above all. It remains the biggest moral challenge facing human kind, and for low lying countries, climate change is about our survival into the future.
Climate change affects many human rights, undercutting the rights to health, to food, to water, and it may even affect the right to self-determination, said the UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Flavia Pansieri.
In 2005, Inuit activist Sheila Watt-Cloutier filed a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights seeking relief “from human rights violations resulting from the impacts of global warming and climate change caused by acts and omissions of the United States.” The petition was rejected.
Bringing human rights into the center of discussions would reinforce the call on states and businesses to step up their game.
However, if fundamental rights are not recognized in the process, there is a danger that adaptation efforts can leave behind vulnerable farmers and communities at the bottom of supply chains. This risk is especially acute in the food and agriculture industry, where companies are feeling the pressure to change their approach to producing crops that are highly sensitive to climate change.
Climate change and human rights cannot be pursued separately. Their interrelatedness finally has been recognized by including climate change as an SDG. “SDG No. 13: Take urgent action to combat climate change” highlights an important milestone as the issue was not addressed through the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The SDGs convey an understanding that there are no quick fixes and that we need to be all together in this sustainable development endeavor over the long haul and to take action quicker than politicians talk.