Nov. 2—University of Colorado Boulder and United Nations Human Rights will co-host the inaugural Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit on campus next fall, bringing international leaders together in Boulder to address climate change as a human rights crisis.
While many details have yet to be announced, the four-day summit is set for late fall and will focus on measurable outcomes and accountability on issues of climate change, said Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Alliance founder David Clark, “not just holding a summit for the sake of holding a summit.”
While Clark has worked with the United Nations for more than 20 years, the alliance was launched this year to partner with UN Human Rights to support the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement through advocacy and events.
Clark was looking at host universities around the world when he saw Chancellor Phil DiStefano’s Earth Day call to action. Clark, a CU Boulder alumnus, dived deeper into the campus’ history with climate science, human rights and international law.
“Knowing the city, I had this instinct that Boulder could be the Davos of climate change,” Clark said, referring to the Swiss town. “You’ve got an amazing citizenry here that’s very concerned about climate change, very concerned about human rights, and with all of the national labs — Boulder has the heft to host a global summit every year on the scale of the Global Economic Forum.”
Chancellor Phil DiStefano said the university’s 50-year history of climate and energy research, along with environmental studies and human rights programs, make CU Boulder a natural fit to co-host the summit.
“This summit is going to really multiply the efforts happening on campus and around the world on climate change,” DiStefano said. “I believe that what we’re doing and what we can do in the future, especially in the area of research, will be enhanced by having the summit here on campus.”
The summit’s emphasis will be on climate change’s impact on humanity, Clark said.
“The unique nature of this is that the world is actually recognizing that real people get hurt when climate change happens, so it’s important to view the climate crisis through the human rights lens,” Clark said. “Yes, we need to focus on data and science, that tells us the what. The human element is the why, and it’s usually the people contributing least to the problem who are going to get hurt the most.”
The summit will bring people together from across disciplines, cultures and experiences to address climate change as a human rights crisis, said Benjamin Schachter, team leader for environment and climate change at the United Nations Human Rights Office.
“By working together to advance human rights, including the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, people from all walks of life can help develop innovative and ambitious climate solutions, put a human face on climate change related loss and damage, and build the political will and momentum needed to survive the climate crisis and emerge from the other side with more just, inclusive and sustainable societies,” Schachter said in a statement.