Climate Change

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Climate change is one of the world’s greatest challenges to human development and the environment, directly affecting human rights such as the rights to water, food, health and an adequate standard of living. Such effects represent a matter of justice, as communities who least contributed to the environmental crisis generated by climate change are expected to suffer from most of its negative impacts. To make matters worse, many of them live in fragile ecosystems and rely on those natural resources most affected by climate change.

With the increasing pressure on land and resources, climate change tends to exacerbate existing threats to indigenous people and local communities. Conflicts around land tenure, access to natural resources, and discriminatory legislation are expected to be aggravated, particularly affecting rights to maintain traditional livelihoods, knowledge and cultures, and to self-determination.

We Aim To

  • Ensure that indigenous peoples and community rights issues are promoted and recognised in both climate change policy discussions and implementation activities.

We Do This By

  • Working at different levels, from the international with a focus on the United Nations Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), to African regional and sub-regional levels, and national and local levels.
  • Supporting elements of legal empowerment and capacity building in person and in writing to assist communities to conduct advocacy and network and negotiate on their own terms.
  • Conducting research, with an emphasis on participatory action research and ‘decolonised methodologies’, which provides an evidence base for our advocacy.
  • Hosting regional multi-stakeholder dialogues on rights-based climate change issues.


Melissa Groenink

Programme Manager: Defending Rights


The programme operates in the following countries:

Programme Funders

Foundation for Human Rights
International Development Research Centre
Department for International Development
Open Collaborative Science in Development Network

Projects in this Programme


Empowering Indigenous Peoples and Knowledge Systems Related to Climate Change and Intellectual Property Rights


Exploring the Opportunities and Challenges of Implementing Open Research Strategies within Development Institutions


Reclaiming the Nama Past to Adapt to the Future


Right to Food and Climate Change in Southern Africa: International and National Protections for Indigenous People


Rights-based REDD+ Dialogues and Developing REDD+ Training Material

Programme News

Programme Publications

Submission: Basic Environmental Assessments for various West…

Submission: Land Tenure Act Upgrading Amendment Bill (South …

Submission: Land Tenure Act Upgrading Amendment Bill (South …

Submission on Expropriation Bill (South Africa)

Environmental Court Cases: Ganges River

Environmental Court Cases: Friends of the Irish Environment

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