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Is climate justice a human right?

October 27, 2015

Among the several advocacies of the late Supreme Court Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma were the issues of peace and human rights. She likewise showed great concern on the issue of environment as a human right. Thus, the current trustees of the Justice Cecilia Munoz Palma Foundation (JCMPF) thought that environmental justice would be an appropriate theme during the observance of Justice Palma’s birth anniversary this month. The other program activities of the JCMPF, in addition to the legal forum series, include awards and scholarships and a museum focusing on the life and career of this outstanding jurist and public servant.

The legal forum which will be held at the SGV Hall, Asian Institute of Management Conference Center, on November 12 will tackle the issue of environmental justice. With the Climate Change Commission as the primary sponsor, it is also supported by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office, the Metrobank Foundation, Landbank, Phinma Properties, Aquabest, and GMA News Online.

Senator Loren Legarda who had won national and international recognition for her outstanding pioneering work on environmental concerns is guest speaker, with the following panel speakers: Secretary Luncile Sering of the Climate Change Commission; Atty. Antonio Oposa, Ramon Magsaysay Foundation awardee; Atty. Jose Luis Martin Gascon, chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights; Mr. Bonar Laureto, executive director of the Philippine Business for the Environment; and Atty. Jennifer Tauli-Corpuz, legal and human rights coordinator, Tebtebba Foundation. Dr. Carmencita N. Reodica, member, Board of Trustees of the JCMPF, will give the introduction while its chair, Dr. Mina T. Gabor, will give the welcome message. The other two trustees, Atty. Daisy Arce will moderate the forum and Grace Palma Tiongco will emcee the program.
The forum is one of the several dozens of consultative meetings taking place in various parts of the world before the Climate Change conference takes place in Paris this coming December. For sometime now, earlier summits on the environment had focused on carbon emissions, global warming, and inches of sea level. That is all right, someone noted, but it seems like there is greater empathy when one talks about people and their rights from the very start. This is why countries, especially the small island nations who are much more vulnerable, are encouraged to focus on the human rights-based approach in arguing for more adequate support. Climate change affects human rights, undercutting the right to health, to food and water. It may even affect the right to self-determination, according to an environmentalist.

As Mary Robinson, now envoy for climate change, the advocacy will now shift to climate justice. As this former UN commissioner on human rights and former president of Ireland who for the past four years had led a foundation dedicated to climate justice noted, climate change is the greatest threat to human rights in our 21st century. And most would agree that when we are fighting for climate change, we are fighting for our rights – for equality, for freedom from hunger, for protection of our indigenous peoples, and the restoration of the loss of our cultural traditions and knowledge.

Those who wish to attend the forum should please e-mail justicepalmafoundation@gmail.com My e-mail: florangel.braid@gmail.com

Source: Manila Bulletin