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  • Writer's pictureOvith Thiyagalingam

Exploring the Intersection of Climate Justice and Human Rights

“The human rights implications of currently projected levels of global heating are catastrophic. Climate change threatens the effective enjoyment of a range of human rights including those to life, water and sanitation, food, health, housing, self-determination, culture and development.”

– Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2018-2022)

The Human Rights Impact of Climate Change

As an environmental issue, climate change is already causing extreme storms and heatwaves, droughts, floods, forest fires, and rising sea levels. Climate change also presents a large human rights challenge, as the adverse consequences of climate change are not experienced equally by all people. Instead, the low-income populations and marginalized communities already vulnerable to human rights abuses are also the most impacted by climate change.

Global climate change is directly hindering the ability to protect specific human rights, which include the right to life, health, nutritious food, safe water, housing, and the rights of Indigenous peoples.

For instance, adverse health issues caused by climate change and related extreme weather include heart-related disorders, higher rates of water and airborne diseases, respiratory illnesses, malnutrition, and mental health problems.

Groups most vulnerable to climate change are members of marginalized and Indigenous groups, older individuals, people with disabilities, and low-income people living on marginal land. As land and the natural environment are key to Indigenous communities, Indigenous people are likely to disproportionately suffer physical loss and a sense of spiritual loss as a result of climate change.

Student Action

Youth in Canada and around the world are combatting the climate crisis and its disproportionate impact on vulnerable populations.

Here’s what you can do to help:

Support climate justice activists and non-profit organizations in Canada advising on key environmental and climate issues.

Take part in youth climate action summits and conferences to share your voice and raise awareness for the importance of climate justice and addressing the human rights impact of the global climate crisis.

Historically, young people have led the charge in accelerating action against environmental, social, and racial injustice. Now, you have an opportunity through your voice and actions to join the cause.

Subscribe to the SFHRA newsletter to hear future updates on global human rights issues!


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