UNESCO’s Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change

UNESCO’s Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change

Denial is a common human behavior trait. This is why some people today still refuse to believe that polar bears are dying from receding ice or that hurricanes are increasing; some even think that climate change doesn’t even exist. However, I find it hard to believe that there are people who refuse to acknowledge something as real as climate change.

Believe it or not, climate change is a pressing issue and in 2017, UNESCO addressed this problem by coming up with the “Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change.

Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change

Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate ChangeBelow you will find all the principles brought forward in the meeting

Article 1: Aim and Scope

  1. This Declaration proclaims and elaborates ethical principles of decision-making, policy formulation, and other actions related to climate change.
  2. This Declaration recommends that States consider these ethical principles in all decisions and actions related to climate change that are taken internationally, regionally, nationally, sub-nationally and locally, as appropriate.
  3. This Declaration also calls upon individuals, groups, local and territorial authorities, scientific and other communities, including indigenous communities, as well as international organizations, the United Nations system, institutions and corporations, public and private at all levels and in all sectors to consider these ethical principles, as appropriate, in the decisions and actions that they take in response to climate change.

Article 2: Prevention of Harm

Considering that climate change not only erodes the sustainability of Earth’s ecosystems and the services they provide, but also threatens the future well-being of people and their livelihoods, local communities, and individuals through harmful and negative consequences, some of which are potentially irreversible, States and all actors should take appropriate measures within their powers to:

  • Formulate and implement policies and actions to mitigate and adapt to climate change, including through fostering climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
  • Anticipate, avoid or minimize harm, wherever it might emerge, from climate change, as well as from climate mitigation and adaptation policies and actions;
  • Seek and promote transnational cooperation before deploying new technologies that may have negative transnational impacts.

Article 3: Precautionary Approach

Where there are threats of serious or irreversible harm, a lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to anticipate, prevent or minimize the causes of climate change and mitigate its adverse effects.

Article 4: Equity and Justice

  1. Justice in relation to climate change requires fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people. In addressing climate change, relevant actors at all levels should work together in a spirit of justice, global partnership, inclusion, and in particular in solidarity with the poorest and most vulnerable people. Global engagement that mobilizes governments, international organizations, including the United Nations system, private sector, civil society, and other relevant actors may be beneficial.
  2. It is important for all to take measures to safeguard and protect Earth’s terrestrial and marine ecosystems, for present and future generations. The interaction of people and ecosystems is particularly important given the high dependence of one upon the other.
  3. In this context, measures should take into account the contribution of women in decision-making since women are disproportionately affected by climate change while at the same time tending to have lower access to resources and yet play a vital role in achieving inclusive sustainable development. These measures should also take into account the needs of those at greatest risk, particularly the poorest and the most vulnerable.
  4. States and other pertinent actors should facilitate and encourage public awareness, and participation in decision-making and actions by making access to information and knowledge on climate change, and on responses that have been made to it, as well as on the means of how to implement mitigation and adaptation actions, widely available in a timely manner taking into account the differentiated needs and access to resources of the most vulnerable.
  5. In response to the adverse effects of climate change, and to climate change mitigation and adaptation policies and actions at the national level, effective access to judicial and administrative proceedings, including redress and remedy, should be provided as stipulated in the 1992 Rio Declaration and according to national laws.











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