By Yusufu S. Bangura
The Vice-Chairman for the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL), Victor Idrissa Lansana, has stated that climate change is a human rights issue because it hampers the full realisation of several rights including right to food, education, good water and sanitation, among others.
Speaking on the commission’s new drive about Human Rights and Climate Change, Lansana said the commission has established Directorate of Climate Change and Information Services to boost the fight against the effects of climate change.
He said climate change is a global phenomenon that has affected the entire world.
He said the Fifth Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, climate change is caused by anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases.
The deputy chairman said they established the Directorate of Climate Change and Information Services in January this year in order to boost the fight against the negative effects of climate change.
He said what they have seen in the country over the years showed that Sierra Leone is sitting on a time bomb due to the statistics of disasters that have occurred over the years.
He added that the urge to live in Freetown has led to the encroachment on and destruction of the greenbelt, the rainforest and water catchment areas and that mining activities mostly in the provinces have been causing havoc on the environment.
He noted that they have found out that commitments made by most African leaders to handle climate change in different forum do not reflect in their countries.
He said the commission is the only institution primarily mandated to promote and protect the rights of everyone in the country, and that they believe that they have to intervene in the fight against the effects of climate change in order to give it a human rights perspective.
He said one of the key functions of the directorate is to monitor climate issues across the country, adding that the commission also has the mandate to advise government generally on human right issues.
Lansana said during the climate summit in Nirobi, he observed that world leaders didn’t discuss human rights based approach, but rather talked about climate finance.
Going further, Lansana said a human rights-based approach means that policies are formulated; obligations of duty-bearers are identified along with the responsibilities and entitlements of the rights-holders for a better synergy.
He said they believe that most countries missed the implementation of the SDGs because they didn’t give it a human rights based approach.
“A human rights-based approach is what has been strongly recommended to prevent or control the impacts of climate change. However, research has shown that public awareness about climate change is still low and needs robust advocacy to get rights-holders and states alike understand that climate change is here and is real. Any adaptation or mitigation measure that considers the human rights-based approach would guarantee the promotion of alternative energy sources, forest conservation or tree-planting projects, resettlement schemes, among others. Another strong recommendation to combat climate change is the need for strong international cooperation between and among states, especially states that are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC),” he ended.