Climate justice must be at the heart of the battle against climate change or there may be no way back from catastrophe, warned the former Secretary General of Amnesty International.

Kumi Naidoo, who is also former executive director of Greenpeace International, was speaking as some of the biggest players on the world stage of climate change prepare to assemble at the second World Forum on Climate Justice, to be held at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) next week.

He said: “Unless we put climate justice at the centre of our efforts, we will almost certainly fail. Now, more than ever, we need to popularise the idea of climate justice, broaden and deepen its scope and hopefully use it as part of our arsenal to avert catastrophic climate change. Hopefully this conference will help in that journey.”

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General; Princess Esméralda of Belgium, human rights’ campaigner and environmental activist; and Nigel Topping, UK Government Champion for UN climate talks, are just three of the other major names attending to discuss climate recovery in the wake of COVID-19 and the 26th UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26).

The event, organised by GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice, will take place as the planet is still grappling with the COVID-19 pandemic and just two months before global leaders meet in Glasgow during COP26. The Forum’s themes will reflect both of these topics, recognising the need to incorporate climate justice into global climate governance and the post-COVID-19 recovery.

Professor Tahseen Jafry, who is Conference Chair and Director of the Centre for Climate Justice, said:

“We hope to inspire and motivate by bringing together some of the strongest minds from across the regions of the world to help guide the road map to recovery, building resilience and preventing catastrophic devastation to the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of people.”

The event will be led by a keynote address from former Republic of Ireland President Dr Mary Robinson and other high-profile names including Mithika Mwenda, executive director for Pan African Climate Justice Alliance; Claudia S. de Windt, founder and CEO of the Inter-Amercian Institute on Justice; Ashley Komangaapik Rose Cummings, indigenous rights activist for Inuit communities in Canada and Member of Canadian Prime Minister’s Youth Council; Runa Khan, founder and executive director Friendship NGO Bangladesh; and Hindou Oumarou Ibrahim, the President of the Association for Indigenous Women and Peoples of Chad (AFPAT). They will be joined by global thought leaders, indigenous activists, and representatives from academia, government and industry.

GCU held the inaugural World Forum, in partnership with Elsevier, back in 2019. With hundreds attending and a strong line-up of speakers, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon MSP, Dr Mary Robinson and Dr Kerry Kennedy, the event made a landmark contribution to the important discussion around the inequality of climate change and its impact.

Nigel Topping said: “I am delighted to attend the second World Forum on Climate Justice, which has been organised by Glasgow Caledonian University’s Centre for Climate Justice. I am very much looking forward to contributing to the important conversations that need to take place in tackling the imminent climate crisis we all face.

“I am pleased to see that there is a university research centre that has recognised climate justice is a very integral part of the debate on solving the climate emergency and a cornerstone to building resilience.”

Runa Khan said: “With COP26 just around the corner, our voices must incorporate the learnings from the pandemic and the negative climate impacts, which are happening on a daily basis, changing life on our planet. The World Forum on Climate Justice brings together knowledge and resilient practices from these experiences, helping us in the pursuit of a more climate-just world.”

Claudia S. de Windt said: “The world is at a critical inflection point, facing two intricately entwined crisis that transcend all borders. We need to rebuild and emerge stronger and better after the pandemic. We also need to understand the roots of the climate crisis to address justly the inequities it fuels across all dimensions of sustainability. The World Forum will provide a platform to join forces and discuss how to make change happen in the run up to COP26 and in the critical decade ahead of us.”

Professor Jafry added: “As the world’s climate warms at an unprecedented rate, the resultant impacts will be felt most by those who have contributed the least to global carbon emissions.

“On top of this, we find that it is the same communities that are facing the worst experiences in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. Ahead of the COP26 Summit being held in Glasgow in November, this forum will provide an opportunity to examine, discuss and debate how to ensure equity and justice are enshrined as core values on the road by developing climate just and sustainable solutions for the benefit of all of humanity not just the privileged few.”

The event will take place between September 21-23 and host around 100 short talks, covering the diverse challenges posed by climate change, from its impact on fair access to food and water to the spread of diseases such as malaria, the growing vulnerability of communities to extreme weather events, and the resulting challenges on migration and population displacement.

Sign up for the event here: