Human Rights at COP 28

By Alexandra Wenzel 


Alexandra Wenzel is part of the Pact Ambassadors network. She attended COP 28, in Dubai.


From November 30th to December 12th, over 70,000 delegates from around the world came together for the annual international climate change negotiations, the 28th Conference of the Parties (COP28) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). COP28 was hosted in Dubai under the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Presidency. COP28 speeches, statements, and decisions can be found here

Inger Anderson, Executive Director of UNEP, opening the side event “Human Right to a Healthy Environment – What Next?”

“There is no climate justice without human rights”. This statement reverberated throughout the COP28 venue. On December 3rd, civil society came together wearing white in solidarity with human rights and Palestinians. On this day, numerous actions and side events took place highlighting the need to ensure human rights-based climate action. At “Human Right to a Healthy Environment – What Next?” panelists reflected on where to move forward after the recent recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment at both the UN General Assembly and the UN Human Rights Council. David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, highlighted the need to protect this right as an additional protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights. 


Another theme was the need to protect civic space to protect human rights and lead to meaningful climate action. Many negotiators and civil society actors wore bright red “human rights and civic space for climate action” lanyards. At a side event, “Land and Environmental Defenders: advancing climate justice,” Indigenous environmental defenders spoke about their work and the intimidation that they face by governments and corporations. A member of Global Witness also spoke, remembering the 1,390+ defenders killed since the signing of the Paris Agreement. At another event, “No climate justice without human rights: civic space for a fossil free future,” speakers highlighted the need to protect civil and political rights in all spaces, including in the COP host countries. 


COP28 began with the historic passing of the Loss and Damage Fund. However, the pledges to the fund total only $700 million. At an event, “Loss and Damage, Human Rights, and Corporate Accountability,” these pledges were labeled “peanuts” when compared to the billions in financing actually needed.

COP28 concluded the first Global Stocktake, an assessment of the world’s progress in achieving our climate goals under the Paris Agreement. However, Parties were unable to agree upon language for  human rights-based climate action. Nonetheless, in a historic moment, Parties did agree to transition away from fossil fuels.