UN appoints Tuvalu national as climate change expert

A Pacific climate change expert has been appointed to a new role as United Nations Special Rapporteur on climate change and human rights.

The appointment of Ian Fry, who holds both Australian and Tuvaluan nationality, is expected to embolden environmental defenders and provide more support for victims of extreme weather.

Fry will hold the post for the next three years. His experience includes negotiations on behalf of least developed countries ,including at the 2015 Paris climate conference where he helped ensure that human rights were part of the final package.

His mandate is to “study and identify how the adverse effects of climate change, including sudden and slow onset disasters, affect the full and effective enjoyment of human rights and make recommendations on how to address and prevent these adverse effects”.

In his letter stating his reasons for seeking the post, Fry stressed the need for action to help those forcibly displaced by extreme weather, having witnessed this first hand after Cyclone Pam in Tuvalu in 2015.

“I believe the displacement due to climate change is one of the greatest human rights threats confronting the international community,” he wrote. Fry, who teaches environmental policy part time at an Australian university, was one of 26 candidates for the position, UN documents showed.

Tuvalu has been prominent in drawing global attention to the struggle against rising sea levels. Its foreign minister gave a video address to the United Nations climate change conference in Glasgow last year standing knee-deep in seawater.