International panel on “Ethics and climate change: UNESCO’s draft declaration of ethical principles in relation to climate change”
During COP23, UNESCO will organize an international panel on “Ethics and Climate Change: UNESCO’s Draft Declaration of Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change” that will be held at the UNESCO Pavilion (E09) in Bonn (Germany), on 15 November 2017, from 1.15 p.m. to 2.30 p.m.
The panel will discuss the content of the draft Declaration, and the role and importance of ethics in understanding and formulating responses to climate change. The panel discussion will be moderated by Ms Dafna Feinholz, Chief of the Bioethics and Ethics of Science Section in UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector.
The participants in the panel are:
• Prof. Jean-Pascal van Ypersele, Professor at Université catholique de Louvain (Belgium), former Vice-Chair of the IPCC (2008-2015), member of the Belgian Federal Council for Sustainable Development, and member of the Ad-Hoc Expert Group of UNESCO for preparing a preliminary text of the draft Declaration.
• Prof. Donald Brown, Scholar in Residence and Professor at Widener University Commonwealth Law School (USA), and Contributing Author to the IPCC’s 5th Assessment Report.
• Sister Jayanti Kirpalani, Director of the Brahma Kumaris World Spiritual University (UK), and representative of Brahma Kumaris to the UN in Geneva.
• Prof. Rainier Ibana, Professor at Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines), former Vice-Chairperson of COMEST, and member of the Ad-Hoc Expert Group of UNESCO for preparing a preliminary text of the draft Declaration (TBC).
• Representative from SIDS (TBC).
The path towards a comprehensive agreement on addressing climate change must extend beyond purely economic and political considerations. Responding to climate change is at its core an ethical issue, in particular because of its urgency and irreversible character, and its disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Guided by its ethical mandate and inspired by the reports of its World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) from 2010 to 2015 regarding the ethical dimension of climate change, UNESCO has elaborated a draft Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change. This draft Declaration will be considered by the 39th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO for possible adoption on 13 November 2017.
Through this draft Declaration, UNESCO aims to reinforce the ethical principles already embedded in existing climate change instruments, and to strengthen the need for ethical reflection when formulating related responses at various levels, in particular in the design of appropriate and equitable adaptation and mitigation policies. The draft Declaration identifies the following six principles that should be taken into account in order to ensure ethically sound responses to climate change: (i) prevention of harm; (ii) precautionary approach; (iii) equity and justice; (iv) sustainable development; (v) solidarity; and (vi) scientific knowledge and integrity in decision-making. The Declaration also underlines the importance of (i) science, technologies and innovations; (ii) risk assessment and management; (iii) vulnerable groups; (iv) education; (v) public awareness; (vi) responsibility; and (vii) international cooperation for the application of these principles.