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Collaboration essential to address climate-induced displacement

Graphic: A rice farmer in India looks over his crop

The existential nature of climate change means that broad collaboration is needed to address the pressing human rights challenges facing the region.

Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights LogoOffice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Asia Pacific Forum LogoAsia Pacific Forum

The existential nature of climate change means that broad collaboration is urgently needed to address the many pressing human rights challenges facing the region, the APF told a virtual dialogue involving national human rights institutions (NHRIs) from across the Asia Pacific.

NHRIs must partner with as many stakeholders as possible, including UN bodies, experts and agencies, civil society, governments, think tanks and the scientific and business communities, said Pip Dargan, APF Principal Adviser, Capacity Assessments and International Engagement.

The virtual dialogue, hosted by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and supported by the APF, was held on 9 November 2020.

The focus of the dialogue was on exchanging ideas and good practice among NHRIs to address displacement caused by the adverse effects of climate change.

"NHRIs will need to position themselves to provide advice on the formulation of laws, policies and strategies that reflect integrated approaches to climate change-related displacement, especially to their States," Ms Dargan said.

"They will need to use all their functions – including complaint handling, engagement with the international system, monitoring, education and advisory services – and apply these to climate change and displacement," she said.


Human mobility linked to the adverse effects of climate change, including displacement, is expected to increase significantly over the coming years and decades.

UN special procedures Logo Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on internally displaced persons

Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons, gave a keynote presentation on internal displacement caused by the slow-onset effects of climate change.

She highlighted the critical role that NHRIs, including those in the Asia Pacific, can play by monitoring climate change-related internal displacement, collecting data through their complaint handling work and assisting their State to develop and implement human rights-based responses.

Other presenters at the virtual dialogue included: Atle Solberg, The Platform on Disaster Displacement; Sri Aryani, Raoul Wallenberg Institute; and Dr. Georgina Lloyd Rivera. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

Representatives from the NHRIs of Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal, the Philippines, Thailand and Samoa also participated in the discussions.


Graphic: A woman with carries a bag of grain on her head and looks at the land


Ms Dargan highlighted the innovative work undertaken by APF members in this area, including a landmark inquiry by the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines on the human rights impacts of climate change.

She also noted that, over the next six months, the APF will collaborate with UNEP on a project to support NHRIs to advance environmental rights in the region.

This work will build on support provided since 2007 when the APF prepared a report, through its Advisory Council of Jurists, on the Right to Environment, with recommendations to NHRIs that included urging States to evolve and strengthen disaster responses and preparedness, including measures to accommodate displaced persons.

Date: 16 November 2020


Image credits

  1. A rice farmer in India looks over his crop - Nandhu Kumar on Unsplash
  2. A woman with carries a bag of grain on her head and looks at the land - Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash