2022 The 12th Human Right Cities Forum in the view of participants
The secretariat of the WHRCF has asked officials and speakers from domestic and international organizations to send their reviews in order to report on the very vivid atmosphere of the forum. Based on their reviews, the secretariat has prepared a follow-up report on 'the 12th World Human Rights Cities Forum in the view of participants.' The following comments are from the officials of organizers and speakers who were part of the forum especially based on what they saw and felt.
[Officials from National Partner]
BAE Hyun, Head of Department, Gwangju Human Right Center for People with Disabilities
I am Bae Hyun, in charge of the session of disability co-organized by the Gwangju Human Rights Center for People with Disabilities and the Gwangju Solidarity on Eradicating Discrimination against Persons with Disability at the World Human Rights Cities Forum every year. As this year's forum was held under the theme of 'Climate Crisis and Human Rights', we organized the session by setting 'What is the Future of the Rights of Person with Disabilities in the Era of Climate Crisis?' as the agenda. Extreme hot waves, floods, and pandemics, and other climate and ecological crises caused by climate change are worsening every year. As such, discrimination and inequality against minorities including persons with disabilities have been aggravating around the world, so the theme is timely and appropriate. I remember the words of one presenter, Michal Balcerzak, Committee Vice Chairperson, UN Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination. He said "in responding to climate crisis, it is a very important issue that how to interpret and apply the term 'vulnerability'. There is some controversy on the term. It has been used in the international laws and soft law related to climate crisis and disasters, so, we need to ponder on how to interpret and apply the term.” I also believe that it requires discussions among all relevant parties over the issue because the contents and quality of responses would be dependent on the way of interpretation of vulnerability when it comes to human rights security for persons with disabilities in the climate crisis era. I was regretted that we had to organize the forum virtually over the last 3 years. In particular, many persons with disabilities in local areas were not satisfied with the virtual setting of the conference. This year, however, many participants said that they were pleased to participate in in-person forum. Some of them even said they felt that they were just truly in the World Human Rights Cities Forum. Lastly, I have benefited a lot while preparing the session of disabilities over the last several years. I was able to have a chance to meet and work with relevant people from various organizations and groups in the process, which widened my perspective as I could encounter the issues that other people thinks. As a result, I came to be interested in various human rights issues not only in disability-related issues in our society. In this regard, I think that the WHRCF is significant in that it has dealt with agendas from diverse fields not only with certain field or agenda as other forums and conferences do. Especially, one of strengths of the WHRCF is that the forum and its organizers try to make sure the results from thematic sessions to be linked to actual policies and systems.
PARK Hyunbin, Student, Gwangju Inseong High School
Hello. I am Park Hyun-bin, living in Gwangju, South Korea, and attending Gwangju Insung High-school. As an youth activist, it was my second time to be part of the 12th World Human Rights Cities Forum. Now, I would like to share my review on attending the forum. Especially, I attended the thematic session of children and the youth during last year's forum for the first time. At that time, I delivered my speech on student-engaged ecological education with the agenda of 'Seeking for Education Transition in Disaster Era'. During my remarks, I concentrated on the necessity of changes in education system and curriculum and the severity of climate crisis in the perspective of the youths. I remember that when an official from the secretariat asked me whether I was available for the forum, the term 'world' was felt quite overwhelming to me. Also, I was the only student participant, which made me more nervous. When I was at the venue, however, I was able to feel very warm and welcoming atmosphere. I was worried that what if audiences and organizers ignore my opinions and words because I was a student. Rather, however, they paid attention to me, which made me feel respected. In my view, the most noticeable characteristic that distinguishes the WHRCF from others is that the youths and students are given an opportunity to speak. During this year's forum, I attended the session and talked about the climate actions that I participated in so far. Also, I had time to discuss the youth's thoughts on ways to respond to climate crisis and shared each other's opinions. What made me surprised was that many foreigners and international audiences attended the session to listen to the opinions of the youths as Covid-19 subsided at some extent. Especially, I could see more young participants this year than last year. Kim Nahun, a youth activist, expressed that some students agreed on the severity of climate crisis, however, that was not enough to directly lead to actions, on which I fully agree. Therefore, my plan is to take an aggressive action on figuring out ways to make the youth have a full empathy on climate crisis and enable them to easily access to direct actions against climate crisis. I hope to see that the results from the discussions of the forum would be turned to action not just remain as just words. Thank you.
LEE Hangyeol, Representative, Gwangju Youth Climate Action 1.5°c
I am Lee Hangyeol of '1.5°C', a Gwangju youth climate activists group. As a representative activist, I participated in the session of 'Youth Action in Response to Climate Crisis'. During the session, we discussed cases of youth climate action in Gwangju, climate justice, and human rights of the youths. While attending the World Human Rights Forum, I expected that the voices of the youth climate activists could reach out to a greater number of people. We had a chance to talk on the rights of the youth activists including 'climate crisis of the youth', 'right to know about what is going on around the world', 'right to study climate justice', 'right to eat vegan lunch', and 'right to go picketing on every Friday'. We hoped that our voices and opinions would be well accepted in our society.
I think that I gained good companions. I was able to meet other four panelists who participated in the session and we have kept a good relation with one another. Even recently, we have been working on some climate justice actions in Gwangju based on solidarity. We have determined to come up with interesting climate actions in Gwangju. So, please, keep your eyes on us.
[Officials from International Partner]
Wulandari Anindya Kana, Communications Officer, Kota Kita Foundation
Organizing and participating in the WHRCF 2022 have been such an eye-opening experience for me. For three days, we had the chance to connect and learn with a diverse network of like-minded activists, civil society organizations, experts, and government officials working hard to advance rights-based action plans toward a sustainable future.
Besides the talks and discussions, my colleagues and I also got to learn more from the city of Gwangju and its citizens on how to engage various stakeholders in the city to promote human rights and democracy during the Human Rights Tour and Human Rights Policy Tour. Concurrently, the lessons we learned from the tours serve as an example and a reflection on the session that we organized, which highlights the topic of the Right to the City and showcases citizen-led collective action that aims to promote and achieve climate justice.
Even though personally this was my first time coming to Gwangju to attend and organize a session at the World Human Rights Cities Forum, Kota Kita Foundation's WHRCF attendance and cooperation with GIC date way back. As we have done in prior years, the Global Platform for the Right to the City and Kota Kita Foundation are keen to continue our participation in the WHRCF 2023 to build on this year's session and to encourage more profound discussions. See you in WHRCF 2023!
Fithriyyah Iskandar, Youth Right Ambassador for Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment
I was one of the panelists in the Special Session [Youth Talk 2.0] - Human Rights and Climate Adaptation Plans organized by Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) & ASEAN Youth Forum (AYF).
Attending the World Human Rights Cities Forum (WHRCF) is a really impressive experience as I never expected that I’d be truly impressed by Gwangju history and its commitments on creating the environmentally-friendly city.
Besides that, experiencing the in-person activity, meeting so many experts from various countries and regions, WHRCF successfully brings together the important stakeholders, government, and youth to be at the same table in solving the human rights related to environmental issues.
I learnt a lot about many best practices that provided by resources person on country-city adaptation plans in response to climate crisis.
I think this is something that we need to have and enhance more to have discussions based on the best practices, so there will be a meaningful knowledge & experience sharing that can inspire for policy prototype or adaptation model in each country.
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