Julius Mucunguzi writes from the climate talks in Copenhagen, Denmark
I am writing this from the huge Computer centre, here at Bella Centre,
My colleagues, Janet Strachan and Graham Banton, must be somewhere in one of the plenary sessions in one of the rooms around.
I spent most of the last two days distributing--to journalists and delegates-- the famous Port of Spain Consensus on Climate Change, the strong statement by Commonwealth leaders agreed in
Out of the many events happening here, I decided this afternoon to attend an event focusing on Climate Change as a Human Right. I was partly drawn to the event because today 10 December is the International Human Rights Day.
I was very moved by the presentation by Martin Wagner, from Earth Justice, who simplified the climate change discourse to show that this not simply about the complex legal drafts and pie charts that negotiators are embroiled in, but a matter of life and death—human beings.
‘Climate change is about real people, who are drowning in floods, and those dying of famine due to absence of rains; it is about people who have lost their sources of income due to the extinction of fish in lakes and seas, it is about people whose livelihoods have been undermined,” said Mr Wagner.
And I cold clearly see the logic and the connection. Casting my mind back, thousands of miles away in my village in South western
The thick fog and mist that we used to see very early in the morning as walked to school is long gone, the sound of birds—especially the Crested Crane—that used to wake uu up at 3am is longer evident. Why, because the habitat was destroyed.
People like those in my village expect nothing less from the high profile people negotiating a deal here in
So, back to the climate change and human rights relationship: climate change undermines people’s right to water—and in some circles, they that water is life. Without water, no life can exisit.And it is.
Another participant said that in places where water levels have deepened beyond a point where people can draw it, it has meant that communities have to walk long distances in search of the precious liquid. And as you may know, in most of the poor communities, the responsibility of fetching water falls on the shoulders of women and girls. What that effectively means is that, instead of girls going to school, they are first sent to fetch water-and directly linked to this is that the right to education, especially for the girl child gets undermined.
These two examples illustrate the human rights side of the climate change debate. But there is more to that: The discussions at the meeting were also informed by a Resolution of the UN Human Rights Council 10/4 that states that: ‘while these implications affect individual and communities around the world, the effects of climate change will be felt most acutely by those segments of the population who are already in vulnerable situations owing to factors such as geography, poverty, gender age indigenous or minority status and disability.”
There couldn’t have been a better way to mark International Human Day.