Journal of Human Rights and the Environment

Climate change and the human right to water

Laura Westra *

Keywords: water as sacred, as human right, as commodity, biological integrity, indigenous peoples, globalization, climate change justice


The author argues that earlier understandings of water as a sacred resource form an invaluable backdrop to contemporary reflections upon the damage caused by climate change, and can, moreover, be related to the modern concept of biological integrity. Linking climate change damage to the violation of human rights, in particular to the human rights of indigenous populations, the author offers a critique of the current failure to respond adequately to climate change damage, linking this to consumerism and globalization. She argues for the adoption of a focus on climate change justice that clearly enmeshes climate change and human rights, including the human right to water, which she argues should now be explicitly adopted as an international human right.

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