14 November 2017
Photo: Johny Goerend
UNESCO now requires all countries develop and submit plans for climate action and to update them every five years. Photo: Johny Goerend

STOP PRESS: The plenary of the 39th Session of the General Conference of UNESCO has adopted the Declaration of Ethical Principles in relation to Climate Change. (PDF 220 KB)


GCI Director Professor Ove Hoegh-Guldberg is one of 24 international environmental experts called on by UNESCO to formulate a draft Declaration on Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change.

UNESCO’s Executive Board has approved the draft declaration, along with a recommendation the draft be adopted by the next general conference of UNESCO in November 2017.

Professor Hoegh-Guldberg was part of the Ad Hoc Expert Group (AHEG), which prepared the preliminary text of the draft declaration.

Members of the AHEG include specialists in climate science, biology, environmental law, oceanography, meteorology, philosophy and ethics.

In an onlin statement, UNESCO said it believed that agreeing universally on ethical principles in relation to climate change would underpin the ambitious voluntary commitments made by 195 countries at the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement to combat the threat of global warming.

“Some 195 countries reached this landmark agreement in Paris, which sets a collective goal of keeping global warming below 2C° compared to pre-industrial times and endeavoured to limit the temperature rise to 1.5C°,” the UNESCO report said.

“It is now required that all countries develop and submit plans for climate action and to update them every five years, though such plans are not legally binding.

“All countries in Paris committed to action on climate change by developing their own voluntary commitments, referred to as Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

“Crucially, the countries’ INDCs, are not legally binding.

“Therefore, a declaration that clarifies the globally agreed ethical principles can support each state to scale its INDC accordingly in order to meet the need, in light of shared responsibilities.”

The final declaration is expected to be approved by UNESCO member states at the 39th session of UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris, 7–29 November 2017.


Read UNESCO's draft Declaration on Ethical Principles in Relation to Climate Change.

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