In October, Jeni and I will be traveling to Norway to present ideas emanating from the Three Degrees Conference. The City of Bergen invited us to talk at a conference it’s convening to develop the “Bergen Charter of Climate Change and Human Rights.” The Charter is part of its Cities of the Future Initiative.

The City of Bergen “has been in dialogue with research communities in the fields of climate, the environment, adaptations to climate, development studies, human rights etc. There is both a will and an interest in Bergen in working on a wide-ranging and comprehensive basis across research, discipline and administrative boundaries for a Bergen Charter of Climate Change and Human Rights.” The City’s plans are to “highlight a new international management model and a new human rights convention by means of concrete case studies and dissemination, with global action goals.”

We are very excited to participate in this exciting and ambitious collaboration in Bergen.

For more from Bergen’s Conference materials on climate change and human rights, see below:

“Today, mankind faces huge challenges with respect to future climate changes and their consequences. Local air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions are part of our everyday life and play a prominent role in deciding the premises for our future. Both the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU) have highlighted the focus on sustainable development in a number of different issues and international agreements.

Sustainable development has been on the specialist and political agenda for many years, with an overall focus on the economic, social and environmental aspects. Despite this, neither the targets for greenhouse gas reductions nor international, national and local climate targets are being met. The UN Climate Panel states clearly that if we are to prevent a worst-case scenario we need binding agreements and action within the next 10-20 years

However, whatever happens, we will not be able to avoid climate change and adaptation to the changes will therefore be an important factor to be considered in connection with sustainable development.

In today’s situation, the individual has no guaranteed right to sustainable decisions being made through either national or international governance. Fragmented political responsibility at all levels exposes coming generations to uncertainty, insecurity and a lack of sustainable decisions that can guarantee the future of our planet.

The Rio Declaration’s principle that the polluter should pay applies to individuals, businesses, organisations and many others, but not to states. Under today’s rules, cross-border pollution is tolerated and states have no liability beyond any agreements they might have signed. “The Bergen Charter of Climate Change and Human Rights” wishes to add a new dimension to the UN and EU principle of sustainable development – the human rights dimension. This would mean extending the sustainability principle to include not only economic and social development and environmental protection but also human-rights aspects. The Convention must focus on the “public right”, the right of the individual to an extended accessibility concept – the right to a society which focuses on democracy, social economy, air that we can breathe and the worth of the individual. Education, dissemination of knowledge and information about these rights must play an important role in the Bergen Charter.

The legal work on the convention will be exemplified by means of a concrete urban development case from Bergen – a management model in which these aspects and dimensions are duly represented. An extension of the model from the Damsgårdssundet project, with a clear human rights profile, may be a good place to start. Collaboration should be established with similar case projects in other cities and countries. In Bergen, we have a local expert milieu engaged in research into central topics that are relevant to the work on a new human rights convention with a holistic academic superstructure.”