Commonwealth lawyers urge more protection for climate-vulnerable groups

KOTA KINABALU: A push to protect climate-vulnerable groups is part of a 10-point declaration made by the Commonwealth lawyers at the end of the three-day Borneo Rainforest Law Conference on Wednesday (Feb 28).

The Commonwealth Lawyers Association, through the Sabah Declaration on Climate Justice, called for climate-vulnerable groups, particularly children, youth, women and Indigenous peoples, to be empowered to assert their rights and participate actively and effectively in decision-making processes that shape climate action.

It pressed for freedom of expression and the right to peacefully protest in support of climate action to be protected.

They also asked for firm legal frameworks aligned with the best available science, protection of human rights, adherence to the rule of law, and promotion of sustainable development and the intrinsic rights of nature.

Among the other declarations-

- Climate justice requires legal frameworks that seamlessly integrate international obligations into domestic law while ensuring fairness, accountability, just outcomes and accessible justice institutions (both formal and informal);

- Climate action by Governments must be based upon the best available science, justice and the rule of law and must be integrated across priority policy areas, including health, education, gender equality, food safety, energy and economic development;

- Climate finance initiatives must adhere to the principles of the rule of law, good governance and respect for human rights while promoting the value of green economies to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon future;

- Just and inclusive governance of natural resources is vital to protect human rights, foster peace and economic stability, and prevent conflicts exacerbated by environmental degradation and resource scarcity;

- Nations must transition towards renewable resource use and nature-based solutions while developing plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across their economies as a matter of urgency in a manner that protects human rights and respects the rule of law;

- Business enterprises must respect human rights and transition within defined time frames to sustainable business practices consistent with the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment; and

- Individual lawyers should act urgently to do all they can to address the causes and consequences of the climate and ecological crises and to advance a just transition to a low-emissions future.

The conference, organised by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association and Sabah Law Society (SLS), was launched by the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Sibli, on Feb 26.

The lawyers from the Commonwealth countries discussed various legal issues facing their countries and the need for countries to align their laws and approaches to meet the challenges of climate change.

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