13. Climate Action and SRHR

The aim of the SDG on climate action is to “take urgent action to tackle climate change and its impacts” (United Nations 2016). Climate change resulting from pollution, deforestation and land use changes is leading to extreme weather events, natural disasters and shifting rainfall patterns. This is exacerbating food and water scarcity, which has consequences for everyone but impoverished and marginalised communities are most burdened.

Climate change is a factor in several negative SRH outcomes, such as poor maternal and reproductive health, and increased susceptibility to disease and infection. Climate-related natural disasters have costly repercussions, including loss of livelihoods and displacement, which also put women and children at greater risk of exploitation and abuse.

There are various conventions and laws that support climate action as envisioned in SDG13. The sections relevant to SRHR can be found below.

You can see how SDG 13 – Climate Action – relates to the SRHR of different groups below.

Women
Women SRHR of Women and Climate Action
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Non-renewable energy consumption is directly linked to environmental degradation, global warming and climate-related disasters. Studies indicate that women and children are 14 times more likely than men to die in disasters (Rutgers International, 2016: 1). This is in part because healthcare services, contraceptives and other medical supplies are limited, and social infrastructure to prevent sexual violence and trafficking is destabilized during these times.
Climate change can have a lasting impact on the livelihood of women in the informal or subsistence farming sector. Extended dry or rainy periods can lead to low crop yields, leading to food insecurity which affects not only nutrition, but sexual and reproductive health as well.

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for Women and SRHR.
The convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.
  • Article 6.0 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.
  • Article 10.0 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in order to ensure their equal rights with men in the field of education.
  • Article 11.2 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to prevent discrimination against women on the grounds of marriage or maternity and ensure their effective right to work.
  • Article 12.1 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in the field of health care in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, access to health care services, including those related to family planning.
  • Article 12.2 States Parties shall ensure to women appropriate services in connection with pregnancy, confinement and the post-natal period, granting free services where necessary, as well as adequate nutrition during pregnancy and lactation.
  • Article 16.1 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in all matters relating to marriage and family relations.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Article 12.0 The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This includes the provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child.
  • Article 10.0 The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize that special protection should be accorded to mothers during a reasonable period before and after childbirth. During such period working mothers should be accorded paid leave or leave with adequate social security benefits. Absolute protection and assistance should be accorded to the family … particularly for its establishment and while it is responsible for the care and education of
United Nations Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS.
  • Section 54 By 2005, reduce the proportion of infants infected with HIV by 20 per cent, and by 50 per cent by 2010, by: ensuring that 80 per cent of pregnant women accessing antenatal care have information, counselling and other HIV prevention services available to them, increasing the availability of and by providing access for HIV-infected women and babies to effective treatment to reduce mother-to-child transmission of HIV, as well as through effective interventions for HIV-infected women, including voluntary and confidential counselling and testing, access to treatment, especially anti-retroviral therapy and, where appropriate, breast milk substitutes and the provision of a continuum of care.
  • Section 60 By 2005, implement measures to increase capacities of women and adolescent girls to protect themselves from the risk of HIV infection, principally through the provision of health care and health services, including sexual and reproductive health, and through prevention education that promotes gender equality within a culturally and gender sensitive framework;
  • Section 61 By 2005, ensure development and accelerated implementation of national strategies for women’s empowerment, promotion and protection of women’s full enjoyment of all human rights and reduction of their vulnerability to HIV/AIDS through the elimination of all forms of discrimination, as well as all forms of violence against women and girls, including harmful traditional and customary practices, abuse, rape and other forms of sexual violence, battering and trafficking in women and girls.
Children
Children SRHR of Children and Climate Action
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Climate change and climate related disasters are having negative consequences on food security which increases the number of low birth-weight babies and young children (World Health Organization, 2017a).
Climate change is a driver of food insecurity and has an effect on poverty levels, which have been found to be drivers of child-related SRHR issues such as Early and Child Marriage (ECM).

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for Children and SRHR
Convention on the rights of the child, on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography.
  • Article 1.1 States Parties shall prohibit the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography as provided for by the present Protocol.
  • Article 8.1 All state parties shall inform child victims of their rights, their role and the scope, timing and progress of the proceedings and of the disposition of their cases.
  • Article 9.2 States Parties shall promote awareness in the public at large, including children, through information by all appropriate means, education and training, about the preventive measures and harmful effects of the offences referred to in the present Protocol.
  • Article 10.3 States Parties shall promote the strengthening of international cooperation in order to address the root causes, such as poverty and underdevelopment, contributing to the vulnerability of children to the sale of children, child prostitution, child pornography and child sex tourism.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
  • Article 10.0 Special measures of protection and assistance should be taken on behalf of all children and young persons without any discrimination for reasons of parentage or other conditions. Children and young persons should be protected from economic and social exploitation.
  • Article 13.2 Secondary education in its different forms, including technical and vocational secondary education, shall be made generally available and accessible to all by every appropriate means, and in particular by the progressive introduction of free education.
United Nations Declarations of Commitment on HIV/Aids.
  • Section 65 By 2003, develop and by 2005 implement national policies and strategies to: build and strengthen governmental, family and community capacities to provide a supportive environment for orphans and girls and boys infected and affected by HIV/AIDS including by providing appropriate counselling and psycho-social support; ensuring their enrolment in school and access to shelter, good nutrition, health and social services on an equal basis with other children; to protect orphans and vulnerable children from all forms of abuse, violence, exploitation, discrimination, trafficking and loss of inheritance.
  • Section 67 Urge the international community, particularly donor countries, civil society, as well as the private sector to complement effectively national programmes to support programmes for children orphaned or made vulnerable by HIV/AIDS in affected regions, in countries at high risk and to direct special assistance to sub-Saharan Africa;
Migrants & Refugees
Migrants & Refugees SRHR of Migrants and Refugees and Climate Action
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Climate-related disasters such as flooding, drought, earthquakes, tornadoes, cyclones, tropical storms, hurricanes, and changed weather systems are one of the primary causes of displacement of refugees and migrants.
The sexual health needs of migrants and refugees during climate related natural disasters are not prioritized. Consequently migration leads to increased rates of human trafficking and exploitation, along with a loss of access to services due to migrant status (Arrow, 2015: 12).

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for Migrants & Refugees and SRHR
Convention on the protection of the rights of all migrants and members of their families.
  • Article 28.0 Migrant workers and members of their families shall have the right to receive any medical care that is urgently required for the preservation of their life or the avoidance of irreparable harm to their health on the basis of equality of treatment with nationals of the State concerned.
  • Article 43.0 Migrant workers shall enjoy equality of treatment with nationals of the State of employment in relation to access to social and health services, provided that the requirements for participation in the respective schemes are met.
Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Racism
  • Article 5.0 States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law in the enjoyment of the following rights: the right to marriage and choice of spouse; the right to public health, medical care, social security and social services; the right to education and training.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Article 1.0 Everyone is entitled to all of the rights and freedoms put forth in this declaration, without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
People with Disabilites
People with Disabilites SRHR of People with Disabilities and Climate Action
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During climate related natural disasters people living with disabilities are impacted by a lack of access to the healthcare and resources they may require. With financial resources constrained, marginalized communities face the risk of falling further into poverty (Arrow, 2015: 11).

Human Rights Conventions and agreements for People with Disabilities and SRHR
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Article 8.1 States Parties undertake to adopt immediate, effective and appropriate measures: (b) To combat stereotypes, prejudices and harmful practices relating to persons with disabilities, including those based on sex and age, in all areas of life; (c) To promote awareness of the capabilities and contributions of persons with disabilities.
  • Article 25.0 States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to ensure access for persons with disabilities to health services that are gender-sensitive, including health-related rehabilitation. In particular state parties shall provide persons with disabilities with the same range, quality and standard of free or affordable health care and programmes as provided to other persons, including in the area of sexual and reproductive health and population-based public health programmes.
  • Article 23.1 States Parties shall take effective and appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against persons with disabilities in all matters relating to marriage, family, parenthood and relationships, on an equal basis with others, so as to ensure that the rights of persons with disabilities to decide freely and responsibly on the number and spacing of their children and to have access to age-appropriate information, reproductive and family planning education are recognized, and the means necessary to enable them to exercise these rights are provided.
  • Article 24.1 States Parties recognize the right of persons with disabilities to education.
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • Article 1.0 Everyone is entitled to all of the rights and freedoms put forth in this declaration, without discrimination of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.