Climate justice and human rights: a conversation with Annamie Paul

May 28, 2021
“The people who suffer the first, and the worst, from the negative impacts of our warming planet are those who are the least responsible,” said Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of Canada in a recent video interview with Michael Messenger, President & CEO of World Vision Canada.

Watch their conversation now:

Humanitarian and other agencies have increasingly vocalized this view, identifying climate change as a threat multiplier that is often combined with conflict and now COVID-19, to create a triple blow against the world’s most vulnerable people. One of the worst symptoms of this phenomenon is a rapidly escalating global hunger crisis and a looming famine across dozens of countries. No less than 155 million people were food insecure in 2020, a five-year high, according to a recent UN report which also warned that number could grow, with up to 270 million people this year who are living on the edge of survival. 

“The countries that are not even registering on the map when it comes to greenhouse gas emissions are the ones being threatened by mass displacement, forced migration and conflict,” Paul said.

Research confirms the dire impact on the world’s marginalized people: 
  • Nearly 24 million people were forced from their homes because of weather-related disasters in 2019, according to the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC).
  • The eight worst ongoing global food crises continue to be closely linked to both conflict and climate shocks, according to the UN.
  • Approximately 100 hundred million more people will be pushed into extreme poverty over the next decade because of climate change, according to the World Bank.
“Access to clean drinking water, access to a live-able environment, the right not to be displaced, the right to be free of conflict --- these things are all human rights,” says Paul, who also sees these preventable impacts as a social justice issue.  

Ms. Paul and The Green Party of Canada are calling on Canada to take a larger responsibility through increased overseas development assistance, climate funds and other tools to address environmental justice issue.

“Even before the pandemic, Canada wasn’t achieving its international commitments,” she said. “But once you recognize in Canada that you have a disproportionate culpability for those rights being under threat, that’s the starting point for recognizing that you need to fix your mistakes and repair the damage.  It comes from understanding why we have these obligations in the first place.”

One of the ways Canada is addressing climate justice is through international assistance grants. The renewed FEED II grant, officially titled “Fortifying Equality and Economic Diversification for Resilience”, funded by Global Affairs Canada and implemented in South Sudan by World Vision, CARE and War Child Canada is focused on women’s empowerment to equip them as leaders in food security and climate smart agriculture. The first iteration of the grant empowered 100,000 women farmers to build food security in South Sudan. In stage two it will continue to build community resiliency to sudden shocks caused by threats like climate, conflict and COVID-19. 

a South Sudanese woman works the soil on her farm.
Anuie Rose Wilson works in her pineapple fields. Through FEED, the 26 year-old mother of 5 received the tools and training she needed to increase her yields, despite a changing climate. Now her children are in school, and child marriage and gender based violence is significantly reduced in her community. Photo: Lambert Coleman 

Ms. Paul views Government of Canada grants as a critical investment that will pay dividends for Canadians too. 

“If there’s anything we’ve learned during this pandemic, it’s how interconnected we all are and how the decisions we make here impact people a world away and vice versa,” she said. “Climate is one of the most important examples of that. We simply can’t ensure our security, our stability our economy, any of the things we value here without ensuring people in other countries have access to those things as well.” 

You can help families find new ways to adapt to a changing climate through things like sustainable farming practices, water management, and income diversification.


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