This article was composed by quoting excerpts from the August 2020 UN Report of the Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights, Karima Bennoune
While an accurate inventory has been made of why climate change is a human rights crisis, culture and cultural rights dimensions have too often been neglected by climate and human rights experts, on the one hand, and cultural experts, on the other. This is a shortcoming that needs to be addressed. The negative effects of climate change on human cultures and on the enjoyment by all of internationally recognized cultural rights, as well as the positive effects that our cultures and the exercise of our cultural rights can have as essential tools for responding to the climate emergency, must be at the heart of international priorities and be studied in more detail. (Item 14)
Some populations and places are disproportionately affected, and the rights and cultures of people in low-lying small island developing States, indigenous peoples, rural populations, women, persons with disabilities, people living in poverty and others are particularly at risk. (…). People with strong cultural ties to the land, sea, natural resources and ecosystems , including indigenous peoples, rural populations and fishers, suffer disproportionate devastation of their cultural life, both individually and collectively (item 7).
Instability and abnormality are the new normal. Climate change is the major intergenerational equality issue of our time. Children and future generations bear or will bear the burden of its effects on a polluted and degraded planet (item 9).
Women already face many obstacles when it comes to exercising their cultural rights1, and climate change exacerbates these inequalities (…) complicating access to education, increasing poverty, causing heavier burdens, earlier marriages, etc. (point 8). [Yet], women are drivers of mobilization and play a leading role in rethinking culture and adopting new ways of life to adapt to the climate crisis.
The work of cultural rights defenders, i.e. human rights defenders who act in favour of cultural rights recognised by international standards, is indispensable for protecting cultural rights and cultures against climate change and for developing and promoting the use of cultural rights and cultural initiatives to combat climate change (item 19). [Yet], environmental human rights defenders are among the most at risk.
The climate emergency threatens humanity as a whole and all human cultures and cannot be approached solely from a sectoral perspective. It is therefore necessary to respond to them at both a global and a local level, in a spirit of universality, in the form of concerted global action, and of diversity, taking into account the different effects, actors and possible solutions (item 10).
Radical cultural change will be needed to alter the trajectory of catastrophic climate change. (…) We must do more to promote the radical transformation of the dominant model, (…) to rapidly change the way we live, produce and consume while respecting rights, and to adapt to possible adverse effects on cultural rights (paragraph 15).
Although it is at risk, culture remains an important part of successful climate adaptation. Traditional knowledge about how to interact with and care for natural systems is essential. The knowledge of indigenous peoples, in particular, will be essential to stabilize the climate. (item 16)
The link between climate and cultural rights cannot be given due attention without resolute transnational action to promote climate justice, because those who are most affected by climate change and who have often done the least to contribute to it are also those who have the least resources to protect their culture from the effects of climate change. Otherwise, a terrible cultural apartheid could ensue. linked to climate and a catastrophic process of “revision”, where much of the history and cultural traces of the greatest victims of climate change would be abandoned to their sad fate, while the traces of those most responsible would be better protected and more likely to be preserved (Item 26).
We need to take a holistic approach culture, cultural rights and climate change, an approach that encompasses all regions, systematically involves young and old, intelligently links the interrelated natural, tangible and intangible cultural heritages and all forms of cultural expression, emphasizing both education and responsibility, and that takes into account the consequences of the actions of state and non-state actors. We will make little progress unless accountability is better implemented. We cannot be selective or limit our mobilization to threats to the culture and heritage with which we feel personally connected: we must adopt a universal approach to the protection of cultures, heritage and cultural rights of all. (item 78).