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GI-ESCR Meets With New UN Special Rapporteurs on Healthy Environment and on Climate Change

GI-ESCR Meets With New UN Special Rapporteurs on Healthy Environment and on Climate Change

On 6 June, GI-ESCR representatives met with Elisa Morgera, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, and Astrid Puentes, UN Special Rapporteur on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

At the meeting, which took place at the Maison Internationale des Associations (MIA) in Geneva, GI-ESCR learned about the priorities and vision of the two newly appointed mandate holders and submitted to them GI-ESCR concerns and recommendations for the delivery of these two critical mandates, which address the multiple environmental crises that are putting at risk the full range of internationally recognised human rights.

At the meeting, GI-ESCR’s representatives brought attention to the risks and opportunities arising from the intersection between climate, economic and social justice. GI-ESCR recommended both mandates to tackle questions related to socio-economic inequalities and the realisation of economic, social and cultural rights as a key priority to address the root causes of environmental degradation.

GI-ESCR highlighted that this includes the transformation of tax policies to foster the redistribution of wealth and the investment in climate mitigation and adaptation, combating privatisation of natural resources and public services, supporting recognising the care economy, investing in renewable energy systems that provide energy for all, measuring social and economic progress with indicators that go beyond GDP growth, among many other efforts, that allow placing human rights at the centre of economic policy. We underscored that this is key to generating well-being conditions for all without overshooting the capacities of our ecosystems.

Furthermore, we considered that to achieve this economy-wide transformation, the concept of a just transition provides a comprehensive framework to embed social and economic justice in climate and broader environmental policies. Born from the labour movement of the 1970s, the concept and social movements on just transition seek to ensure environmental protection is advanced through democratic means and contribute to the realisation of human rights.

We invited the Special Rapporteurs to explore the potential of just transition approaches to debunk harmful myths that hinder the implementation of environmental commitments, such as the belief that poverty eradication and combating inequalities are incompatible with environmental protection or that climate action obstructs development and realisation of economic, social and cultural rights and to provide policy recommendations that create synergies between climate, economic and social concerns.

Along these lines, GI-ESCR specifically encouraged Special Rapporteurs to champion and take an active role in the open global discussions on international taxation at the United Nations and at the regional levels to ascertain that the public revenue generated through cooperation on progressive and green tax policies is effectively allocated to tackle the climate emergency and to achieve a just transition to sustainable societies.

Considering the scale, speed and scope of the systemic change required to achieve emissions reductions and transformative adaptation to climate change, emphasised that these can only be possible through an unprecedented mobilisation of resources. According to some estimations, annual climate finance flows must increase by at least sixfold compared to current levels, reaching USD 8.5 trillion per year between now and 2030 and over USD 10 trillion per year from 2031 to 2050 if we are to achieve the 1.5°C target as set out in the Paris Agreement and avoid the most catastrophic effects of the climate emergency. These resources should be obtained, among other things, from progressive and green tax policies to ensure that those who contribute the most are the ones who pay to redress the climate emergency.


The statement included below, highlights crucial intersections between climate finance and economic justice, particularly in the context of the ongoing negotiations for a United Nations Framework Convention on International Tax Cooperation and the Regional Platform for Tax Cooperation for Latin America and the Caribbean (PTLAC). 

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The following statement, from our recent meeting with the Special Rapporteurs on the Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment, and on Climate Change and Human Rights, underscores the importance of integrating economic and social justice into environmental policies through the concept of a just transition. 

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