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An Introduction to Climate Change and Human Rights UN CC:e-Learn course

This course from UN CC:e-Learn addresses how human rights obligations require the international community to take more ambitious action to mitigate emissions, to support adaptation that benefits persons, groups and peoples in vulnerable situations, and to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change.
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Credit: UN CC:e-Learn
An introduction to climate change and human rights. UN CC:e-Learn
  • Level: Introductory
  • Time commitment: 3.5 hours
  • Learning product: online course (self-paced)
  • Sector: human rights, multiple sectors
  • Language: English
  • Certificate available: from UN CC:e-Learn website

This course is hosted on UN CC:e-Learn. Please find the Climate change and Human Rights course, where you can enrol for full access.

Introduction

“The climate crisis is the biggest threat to our survival as a species and is already threatening human rights around the world”. UN Secretary-General António Guterres, February 2020.

From hurricanes affecting communities in the Caribbean, to sea level rise threatening lives and livelihoods across the Pacific, heat waves and droughts across Europe, and people displaced in the context of extreme weather events, floods and droughts, the effects of climate change are already impacting human rights, including, the rights to food, water and sanitation, decent shelter, health, personal security, and even life itself. Climate change disproportionately affects the world’s most disadvantaged people – those who are the poorest, most exposed and have the least resources to withstand climate shocks and stresses such as extreme weather events. Climate action that is not anchored in a human rights-based approach risks further violating human rights.

This course addresses how human rights obligations require the international community to take more ambitious action to mitigate emissions, to support adaptation that benefits persons, groups and peoples in vulnerable situations, and to address loss and damage associated with the impacts of climate change. It demonstrates the importance of rights-based, participatory climate action, which leads to more coherent, sustainable and effective outcomes. Increased awareness and education on human rights and climate change have been identified as key variables to enhance and support effective, rights-based climate action.

This article provides an overview of the course. The full course with all videos, quizzes plus learning material can be accessed here through a free registration on the UNCC:e-Learn website. For more information on the course structure, methodology, learning objectives and completion requirements, please download the course syllabus.

Institutional background and trainer

The course has been developed by the Paris Committee on Capacity-building with support from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), with funding support from Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) through the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH (GIZ).

Who would find this useful?

This course is intended for everyone with an interest in learning more about climate change and human rights; including policy-makers, students, experts, activists and academics. The course will provide you with tools to better understand, discuss, participate, and act on climate change as well as human rights challenges and opportunities.

Training material

This course is self-paced and consists in seven modules packaged in one interactive package including quizzes, videos and resources. The seven modules are:

  • MODULE 1: Human rights impacts of climate change and corresponding human rights obligations -consists of an introduction to human rights and climate change, an overview of the human right impacts of climate change, and the corresponding human rights obligations.
  • MODULE 2: Human rights in climate negotiations, agreements and action -introduces you to the incorporation of human rights in global climate change negotiations, agreements and action.
  • MODULE 3: Climate change in human rights processes, agreements and action -introduces you to the incorporation of climate change in human rights processes, agreements and action.
  • MODULE 4: Persons, groups and peoples in vulnerable situations -provides an introduction to the disproportionate impacts of climate change on persons, groups and peoples in vulnerable situations, and highlights considerations made in international and national processes to address these impacts.
  • MODULE 5: Regional and national frameworks and action -provides an introductory overview to key regional human rights frameworks and mechanisms.
  • MODULE 6: Rights-based climate litigation -highlights efforts by rights-holders to hold duty bearers accountable for climate change and the protection of human rights through examples of climate change litigation.
  • MODULE 7: Right to development and climate change in focus -a case study on the linkages between climate change and the right to development.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the 7 modules you will be able to:

  • ​​Identify the relationship between climate change and human rights.
  • Describe the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on human rights.
  • Highlight the human right obligations of both state and non-state actors arising in relation to climate change, access to remedy and accountability of state and non-state actors.
  • Recognize the value of a human rights-based approach to climate action.
  • Outline how human rights have been discussed in climate negotiations.
  • Describe how climate agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Agreement address human rights concerns.
  • Discuss strategies that can be used to integrate human rights in climate action.
  • Discuss how climate change has been reflected in human rights processes, agreements and action.
  • Outline how human rights mechanisms have attempted to address climate change concerns.
  • Describe the entities involved in incorporating climate change in human rights action and the strategies they have used.
  • Describe some of the ways that climate change disproportionately affects persons, groups and peoples in vulnerable situations.
  • Identify rights-based approaches for the protection and empowerment of persons, groups and peoples disproportionately affected by climate change.
  • Identify how climate change is addressed through regional human rights frameworks.
  • Explain the link between regional human rights frameworks and national human rights action in addressing climate change issues.
  • Define roles of different actors involved in human rights-based climate action at the regional and national level.
  • State the key objectives of climate change litigation.
  • Describe current trends in climate change ligation.
  • Outline how human rights have been applied to seek redress for climate harms.
  • Describe the right to development and its key features.
  • Identify key actors, laws and policies related to climate change and the right to development.
  • Illustrate the linkage between climate change and the right to development including:
  • the obstacles climate change poses to realization of the right to development;
  • and the guidance the right to development offers for effective climate action.
  • Explain human rights obligations related to the right to development in the context of international cooperation to address climate change.

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