Governments in the Global North are being urged to fulfil their commitments on climate change – that is one of the calls made in a submission to the UN Human Rights Council by the Anglican Communion. It comes in a written statement ahead of the 50th session of the Human Rights Council, which gets underway next week (13 June to 8 July).
The statement has been submitted ahead of a panel discussion, on 28 June, on the adverse effects of climate change on human rights of people in vulnerable situations.”
The Anglican Communion’s submission identifies three particular groups of vulnerable people whose lives are affected by climate change: indigenous communities, young people, and women.
“Evidence from across the Anglican Communion establishes the significance and necessity of lifting up Indigenous communities, whose way of life and very survival are threatened by the climate emergency; young people, facing the fallout of decisions made by past generations; and women, who are disproportionately affected by the consequences of climate change across all population groups”, the submission said.
It says that indigenous communities “are amongst the most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Their deep-rooted connection to land and natural resources means that climate change threatens their very culture and way of life.”
It says that “indigenous perspectives on the climate emergency and stewardship of natural resources offer both practical and spiritual responses. Indigenous peoples are holders of local knowledge on the sustainable management of lands, forests, and earth’s abundance and emphasise connection and relationship with the natural world.
“While indigenous voices are increasingly being recognised in climate discussions, their ability to participate meaningfully in and influence decision-making remains limited.”
The Anglican Communion’s submission says that the impact of climate change on young people is not confined to the physical impacts of a changing climate on the world. “Research suggests that ‘climate anxiety’ and ‘climate grief’ experienced among young people require specific mental health support”, the statement says.
“Young people are seeing the effects of inaction on a daily basis; therefore, if genuine solutions to the climate crisis are to be achieved, the voices, experiences and ambitions of young people must be at the heart of the climate decision-making process.”
The statement highlights the grim reality that “deaths from climate change-related disasters are higher for women”. It continues: “In countries heavily impacted by climate-related weather changes, and where agriculture is a common source of income, thousands of women are pushed below the poverty line each year, leading them to resort to other means of subsistence which are less stable and may further compromise their safety”.
The Anglican Communion makes eight recommendations to United Nations’ member states, UN agencies and civil society.
These include a demand that “Promises must be fulfilled.”
The Anglican Communion says: “Governments, especially those in the Global North, must fulfil their financial commitments on climate finance, scale up development assistance to support mitigation and adaptation initiatives, go beyond dialogue to action on Loss & Damage financing, encourage financial institutions to provide grants, rather than loans, and consider broad-based debt relief for financially overburdened countries.”
And they also stress the important role that faith groups can play: “Faith actors are important partners for peoples living in vulnerable situations. Governments, multilateral organisations, financial institutions and private sector business should recognise the strategic importance of faith actors and include them as key partners in local, regional and global planning in disaster preparedness, response, other adaptation and mitigation activities, and disbursing funds to the most vulnerable.”
The Anglican Communion has consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations through the Anglican Consultative Council. It is represented by a permanent representative, Jack Palmer White, who works with the Instruments of Communion of the Anglican Communion – the Council, the Lambeth Conference, the Primates’ Meeting, and the Archbishop of Canterbury – to represent the concerns of the Anglican Communion’s member churches through the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations.
“As a global body with a shared identity that transcends national borders, the Anglican Communion has a distinctive perspective on this issue”, the statement says. “Member churches of the Anglican Communion are involved in every part of the story of the climate crisis.
“Anglicans face devastation in disaster-stricken communities but are also the polluters in wealthy countries. We are living in poverty and on the margins, including Indigenous peoples, but also wield power and political influence.
“We are investors with financial capital, first responders to disasters and those who accompany communities on the journey of recovery. Anglicans contribute to the problem and to the solution. As a global community, Anglicans connect with one another, share experiences and can leverage their networks and shared identity to mobilise for action.”
Jack Palmer-White said: “by submitting this report to the Human Rights Council, the Anglican Communion Office at the United Nations (ACOUN) is ensuring that the experiences and expertise of the global Anglican Communion are part of the discussion on how to address these issues and recognise best practices in our responses.
“We are advocating for evidence-based policy changes to better protect the human rights of groups vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change – specifically indigenous peoples, young people and women; and communicating a distinctive Anglican perspective on these issues into the United Nations, and making sure that the wider Anglican Communion is aware of how Anglican expertise can shape approaches at the United Nations”