On Dec. 1-4, CU Boulder is cohosting with United Nations Human Rights the Right Here, Right Now Global Climate Summit. More than 40 panelists and keynote speakers from around the world will convene to discuss the relation of climate change to human rights on a global scale, and how each area of civil society can work together to act on climate solutions. In addition to those speakers, CU Boulder experts will be available to comment on the outcome of these discussions and also share how their work ties into addressing climate change from a human rights perspective. Faculty will be available immediately following their respective panel.

Panel 1.1: Understanding Climate Change as a Matter of Human Rights  

Zia Mehrabi, assistant professor of environmental studies and in the Mortenson Center in Global Engineering, applies cutting-edge statistics and data science to solve problems in development for a better and fairer planet. He is the lead author on a July 2022 study in One Earth which ranked threats to global food security in the next 20 years, and calls for increased collaboration to build a more resilient global food supply.

John O’Loughlin is a professor of geography and faculty research associate at the Institute of Behavioral Science at CU Boulder. He’s spent years studying how climate change could be influencing rates of violence in sub-Saharan Africa. In 2019, he was one of the co-authors of a landmark paper published in the journal Nature that examined evidence linking rising temperatures to increases in violent conflict around the world. 

Panel 1.2: The Experiences of those whose Human Right are Disproportionately Impacted by Climate Change

Lori Peek is a professor of sociology and the director of the Natural Hazards Center. She can discuss how disasters impact children, low income families, people of color, and other vulnerable populations. Her work also focuses on displacement, long-term recovery, and what communities can do to become more disaster-resilient. Peek has authored and co-authored several books about disaster, including Children of Katrina, about children displaced by the 2005 hurricane, Behind the Backlash, about the impacts of 9/11 on Muslim Americans, and Safer, Stronger, Smarter: A Guide to Improving School Natural Hazard Safety.

Ben Nevis Barron, a Ph.D. candidate in geography, studies how climate change impacts incarcerated individuals and how prepared prisons are for natural disasters. He has studied Colorado's State Wildland Inmate Fire Team (SWIFT), a program that trains and deploys incarcerated men as wildland firefighters. He also conducts research within CU Boulder’s Resilient Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity interdisciplinary research theme (RISE IRT), examining how the physical and social systems of carceral facilities influence incarcerated people's exposure to climate hazards.

Panel 2.1: The Obligations of Governments arising from the Human Rights Impacts of Climate Change

Jill Harrison, associate professor of sociology, is an expert on environmental justice (EJ) movements and government agencies’ associated efforts to address environmental inequality. For her book, From the Inside Out: The Fight for Environmental Justice Within Government Agencies, she interviewed more than 100 state and federal employees of environmental regulatory agencies to explore why environmental just reforms have been so slow to come. She is a member of the National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC), which advises the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on environmental justice, and she co-founded and directs the CU Graduate Certificate in Environmental Justice

Panel 2:2: Climate Justice Activism – Litigation and Other Strategies to Hold Governments Accountable in the Context of Climate Change

Phaedra C. Pezzullo is an associate professor of Communication at the University of Colorado Boulder. She is Co-Director of C3BC (Creative Climate Communication & Behavior Change) and the Just Transition Collaborative. Her forthcoming book is Beyond Strawmen: Plastic Pollution, Impure Politics, and Networked Cultures of Care (University of California Press, 2023), based, in part, on her podcast, Communicating Care. She has spoken about this work in an event leading up to the Summit, linking plastic pollution with human rights and the climate emergency. Her first monograph, Toxic Tourism: Rhetorics of Travel, Pollution and Environmental Justice (University of Alabama Press, 2007), won four awards; she also has coauthored three editions of the textbook, Environmental Communication and the Public Sphere (Sage, 2016, 2018, 2021), coedited Green Communication and China (MSU Press, 2020), coedited Environmental Justice and Environmentalism (MIT Press, 2007) and edited Cultural Studies and the Environment, Revisited (Routledge, 2010).

Panel 2:3: The Responsibility of Business and Industry to Respect Human Rights in the Context of Climate Change: Good Practices and What More Needs to be Done

Jeff York, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship and chair of the Division of Social Responsibility and Sustainability (SRS) at the Leeds School of Business, studies environmental entrepreneurship––the simultaneous creation of ecological and economic goods. His recent research highlights how green startups may be more impactful at addressing climate change than legacy companies.

Panel 2:4: The Role of Education in Building a Global Culture of Knowledge and Inquiry about Climate Change, its Human Rights Impacts, and Solutions 

Melissa Braaten is associate professor in the School of Education at CU Boulder and one of the authors of the 2018 book "Ambitious Science Teaching." She works with K-12 educators to discover how they learn to teach science in a variety of contexts, from their pre-service classwork to professional development activities and on the job. 

Panel 3:1: Economics, Pricing, Policy - How do governments and various stakeholders pay and otherwise take action to develop climate policy solutions in a manner that is equitable?

Colleen Scanlan Lyons is associate research professor in environmental studies and project director for the Governors’ Climate and Forests Task Force. The GCF Task Force, a project out of CU Boulder’s Institute of Behavioral Science with a global secretariat hosted between CU Boulder and UCLA, facilitates subnational leadership to reduce deforestation and advance inclusive, equitable, low-emissions development in states and provinces and across entire regions. Lyons can discuss carbon markets, indigenous local involvement in forest conservation, the impacts of recent elections in Brazil and other tropical states, as well as governmental policies and subnational governmental leadership for forest conservation and sustainable development.

Panel 3:2: Adaptation/Mitigation/disaster response. How should governments, acting individually and through international cooperation, address the impact of climate change for the most vulnerable, whose voices are often unheard?

Shideh Dashti is associate professor and director of the civil engineering program within the Department of Civil, Environmental, and Architectural Engineering and director of the interdisciplinary research group Resilient Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RISE). She is also acting Associate Dean for Research in the College of Engineering and Applied Sciences (CEAS). She studies how to engineer more resilient infrastructure in the face of increasing natural disasters, keeping the needs of vulnerable populations in mind. She and her students are currently studying how climate change and resulting natural hazards impact incarcerated individuals and what prisons and other facilities can do to prepare for a changing climate.

Panel 3:3 Focus: Developing Climate Solutions with the Human Rights of Future Generations in Mind: What do Youth Have to Say about That? 

Lori Peek is a professor of sociology and the director of the Natural Hazards Center. She can discuss how disasters impact children, low income families, people of color, and other vulnerable populations. Her work also focuses on displacement, long-term recovery, and what communities can do to become more disaster-resilient. Peek has authored and co-authored several books about disaster, including Children of Katrina, about children displaced by the 2005 hurricane, Behind the Backlash, about the impacts of 9/11 on Muslim Americans, and Safer, Stronger, Smarter: A Guide to Improving School Natural Hazard Safety.

Panel 3:4: Traditional Knowledge and Climate Solutions

Clint Carroll is associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies, where he teaches Native American and Indigenous Studies, focused on environmental issues such as land use management and governance. In conjunction with youth, elders and governance of the Cherokee Nation, Carroll studies how Indigenous communities can retain the ability to gather and use wild plant species, including that on land claimed by the National Park Service. He’s also a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and sits on the board of the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies (CNAIS) at CU Boulder, as well as on the board of the Denver Botanic Gardens. 

Please reach out to cunews@colorado.edu to set up an interview.