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Pacific NHRIs plan actions to promote the right to a healthy environment

Graphic: Participants during the Talanoa held in Nadi, Fiji

Representatives from four NHRIs recently met in Nadi, Fiji, to plan national activities on the right to healthy environment.

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Representatives from four national human rights institutions (NHRIs) recently met in Nadi, Fiji, to begin developing proposals for national activities that will give substance to the recently-adopted UN resolution on the right to healthy environment.

NHRI representatives – from Australia, Fiji, New Zealand and Samoa – also discussed approaches to collaborate on this work with the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS), the Pacific Community (SPC) and the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP).

The three-day talanoa and workshop, held from 23-25 August 2022, followed previous discussions held as part of an online learning program for NHRIs on human rights and the environment, which explored the growing body of regional and international standards.

What are international or regional human rights frameworks without them having meaning on the ground, in our countries? This is a question we have to deal with

Romulo Nayacalevu, APF Facilitator for the Pacific

In his opening remarks, Romulo Nayacalevu, APF Lead Engagement Facilitator for the Pacific, highlighted the vital role of national human rights institutions “in supporting the domestication of these commitments so that they can have contextual relevance and meaning for our people”.

Mr Nayacalevu said the talanoa was an important opportunity to “understand more about each other, especially the work of inter-governmental mechanisms, and how NHRIs within their mandates can draw from regional commitments of leaders around climate change as part of their own work in country”.

Dr Erja Askola, Deputy Head of Delegation, European Union for the Pacific, also welcomed the workshop and reiterated the European Union’s support for “a strong and constructive partnership between the main actors involved in the promotion and protection of human rights and climate resilience, in a region that has been proving its commitment and leadership on these important topics”.

As part of the workshop, Dr Ian Fry, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights in the context of climate change, provided a keynote address via Zoom, while Karen Gomez-Dumpit, former Commissioner with the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines (CHRP), provided an overview of the CHRP’s ground-breaking inquiry on human rights and climate change, which focused on the impact of major carbon polluters.

Participants also explored ideas to develop proposals for national activities to promote the right to a healthy environment, such as research or community engagement initiatives, with two projects to be selected by the APF to receive funding.

Following completion of the national activity, the selected NHRIs will share their analysis with the PIFS, SPC and SPREP in upcoming talanoa to discuss measures that best respond to the issues they identified.

The workshop was part of a multi-year project to promote engagement between NHRIs and regional inter-governmental mechanisms to address human rights issues in South-East Asia and the Pacific, funded by the European Union and coordinated by the APF.

Date: 30 September 2022

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Funded by the European Union

Image credits

  1. Participants during the Talanoa held in Nadi, Fiji - R.B.Nayacalevu
  2. EU flag - European Union