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UN Side Event: Advancing a human rights based approach to climate action for people and planet - 26th Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change - Video message by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

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Thank you for joining the UN Human Rights Office at this event on Advancing a human rights based approach to climate action. We are honoured to be co-organizing it with 14 UN partners.

This broad collaboration reflects the united determination of the entire UN system to advance a human rights-based approach to climate action, in line with the UN Secretary General’s Call for Action on Human Rights.

Last month, States at the Human Rights Council overwhelmingly endorsed this approach when they adopted new resolutions to recognize the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and to establish a dedicated Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change.

The message is clear. The interlinked crises of pollution, biodiversity loss, and climate change constitute a grave threat to human rights. The international community must respond with urgent action to prevent, mitigate and remedy the human rights impacts of climate change.

Safeguarding the rights of those who are at greatest risk of climate harm – and ensuring that climate action reflects their perspectives, experiences and knowledge – should guide our action.

Free and open civic space is imperative if we are to tackle this crisis together.

Environmental human rights defenders – including women, young people and indigenous defenders – are vital allies in our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change. We need to uphold their rights to information, to effective participation and to seek access to justice without threats or reprisals.

The Paris Agreement clearly recognizes that participation is the key that can unlock more effective, resilient and sustainable climate action.

Participation is also at the heart of many COP decisions, including those related to Action for Climate Empowerment, the Local Communities and Indigenous Peoples Platform and the Gender Action Plan.

But more needs to be done to ensure that participation is treated as the fundamental human right that it is – not an empty promise that can be shelved when it's inconvenient.

Participation must be meaningful, informed and effective.

Climate decision-making should be transparent, inclusive and accountable – particularly to those most affected by climate change.

At this COP, States should be taking important steps in this direction. I urge them to commit to requiring stakeholder consultations, and environmental and social safeguards, when undertaking cooperative climate action under Article 6 of the Paris Agreement. Human rights should also be explicitly integrated into the workplan on Action for Climate Empowerment.

Effective realization of the rights to education, meaningful participation and access to information will also help to catalyse more effective climate action.

And this is what people everywhere, in all their diversity, are demanding.

We at the UN commit to working with States to expand civic space and advance climate justice – including for today's children and young people, and future generations..

Today’s event aims to further these objectives by creating a discussion space at COP26 for people who are among those most affected by climate change – including young people, indigenous peoples, and migrants.

We know we need to move beyond simply creating spaces for discussion. We need to open and support opportunities for meaningful influence. We need to drive action.

This must start with the decisions adopted here at COP26. We need to stand up for ambitious, rights-based and inclusive climate action – so that humanity can survive and thrive.

Bringing peoples’ demands for climate justice to streets, courts and Parliaments – and everywhere in between – you represent our greatest hope to address this crisis before it is too late.

Our aims are shared. Let's talk about how we can help each other achieve them.