From November 6 to 17, governments, civil society activists, and indigenous peoples are gathered in Bonn, Germany to attend the 23rd round of climate talks (COP23), presided by the government of Fiji. Negotiators are converging to hammer out details so countries can begin implementing the Paris climate agreement, which sets out broad goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, to adapt to negative impacts of climate change, and to move towards a “clean” energy economy. What is special about the Paris pact is that it explicitly reaffirms government obligations to protect people’s rights when taking climate action.
Human rights should therefore be a central part of these negotiations, and protections for environmental rights defenders need to be included in climate policies. These individuals are on the forefront of the climate movement and are frequently threatened and attacked for their activism. Protecting their rights and ensuring their safety are integral to combating climate change and attaining the goals of the Paris Agreement.