Climate Change

'Climate change is one of the most serious challenges mankind has ever faced and has serious implications for the realization of human rights.' High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay,2009


Climate change will have considerable impact on the people of the Pacific - from subsistence food production for food security in villages and rural communities to industries and commercial development in towns and cities. Its impacts will be felt in the oceans and on land, which sustain the livelihood and economic activity for a majority of Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs).

Different populations face different risks and have varying capacities to adapt. There are also different perspectives and priorities toward adaptation approached between the national and community levels in many instances.

There is a significant human rights dimension to climate change as it affects the right to food security, safe drinking water, adequate housing and standard of living, personal security, culture and right to life.

Climate change cuts across the full spectrum of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, and it is important that these considerations are fully integrated into adaptation decision making processes and overall climate responses nationally and regionally. Communities in the Pacific need to be informed, have a voice and be empowered to act.

The RRRT Programme continues to bring attention to the human rights dimension of climate change through supporting education and awareness on using a human rights framework as part of adaptation, agreements and negotiations with lawyers through the Post Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice (PDLP), with Members of Parliament and through mainstreaming climate change and human rights education in training programmes.

It is clear that a discourse on climate change and human rights is emerging, and the use of a human rights framework by policy makers and key stakeholders involved in climate change work is rather limited.

The Team is engaged with the issue in the following ways:

  • Providing support to the implementation of SPC's Internal Climate Change Engagement Strategy (insert hyperlink) by mainstreaming human rights considerations into SPC's climate change support activities. This is designed to ensure that human rights considerations are addressed in mitigation and adaptation response planning;
  • Providing information and training for government and civil society representatives on the evolving jurisprudence in the area of climate change;
  • Providing training for magistrates, lawyers and law students to explain the links between climate change and human rights and evolving jurisprudence;
  • Encouraging rights-based and gender equality climate change policy responses from members of parliament in the Pacific region

In addition through the provision of technical advice in treaty and Universal Periodic Review reporting, we will ensure that human rights reports capture issues connected with climate change.

In addition, we will continue to mainstream climate change and human rights into all training for civil society groups, adaptation projects and in regional climate change meetings to ensure that human rights becomes integral to climate change planning and implementation by regional and national bodies.

For more information on human rights and climate change see


SPC’s Regional Rights Resource Team receives core funding from the Australian Government and additional project support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Pacific Leadership Programme (PLP), European Union (EU) and the German Development Bank (KfW).