29 Nov 2023

Displaced people need to be on COP28 agenda - human rights group

2:10 pm on 29 November 2023
Children in Vanuatu have taken to the streets campaigning for the urgency to address climate change

More than 50,000 Pacific people were displaced due to climate and disaster related events every year. Photo: RNZ Pacific/Hilaire Bule

A new legal framework to support climate-displaced people and guarantee their human rights is being served up ahead of COP28.

The United Nations Climate Change Conference is being held in Dubai from 30 November to 12 December.

Human Rights Centre - The International Center for Advocates Against Discrimination (ICAAD) - wants to ensure climate-frontline communities won't be neglected.

The UN is estimating there could be 1.2 billion climate-displaced people by 2050.

ICAAD and partners are calling for climate mobility justice to feature on the agenda of COP28.

The Human Rights Centre wants discussions around how to expand protections for climate-displaced persons to ensure their dignity is upheld now and in the future.

In the Pacific, many islands could become uninhabitable in the coming decades due to sea level rise, yet there is no legal clarity on how, or if, these communities will be protected.

ICCAD director and facilitator Erin Thomas said over 40 indigenous and climate activists and researchers from eight Pacific Island countries.

"This is part of our right to life of dignity project which we have been working on over a number of years," she said.

"But one of the thornier issues that the international community has yet to respond to effectively is protecting those who are displaced across borders."

The group warned that climate change is already creating human rights abuses, especially for those already migrating without access to dignified migration pathways.

At the Pacific Island Forum annual meeting in Rarotonga two weeks ago, regional leaders noted that more than 50,000 Pacific people were displaced due to climate and disaster related events annually.

The leaders endorsed a Pacific regional framework on climate mobility to "provide practical guidance to governments planning for and managing climate mobility".

They also called on development partners to "provide substantially greateer levels of climate finance, technology and capacity to accelerate decarbonisation of the Blue Pacific".