SOAS University of London

Human Rights & Climate Change: the Case of the Indian Sundarbans

Speaker: Birsha Ohdedar

Date: 22 March 2018Time: 7:00 PM

Finishes: 22 March 2018Time: 8:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar

The relationship between climate change and human rights has been in the spotlight in recent times. Already, the effective fulfilment of a number of human rights such as the right to life, food, health, housing, water and sanitation are affected by the impacts of climate change.

The Indian Sundarbans provide a salient example where the relationship between climate change and human rights can be examined. The region faces multiple threats of cyclones, sea level rise, flooding, and erosion. The Indian Sundarbans form part of the world’s largest delta and the world’s largest coastal mangrove forest. The region is a World Heritage site and is renowned for its biological diversity and wildlife. The region is also home to 4.5 million people, who make up some of the poorest and most marginalised sections of the country. Floods and tidal surges are a part of everyday life that can wash away houses, crops, and contaminate water sources. Climate change remains at the forefront of people’s lives. Communities live knowing that a single storm or cyclone can change things forever. 

This seminar will analyse into the challenges facing the region today, in addition to exploring both the historical and contemporary reasons for these issues. The seminar will discuss the implications for how we understand the relationship between human rights and climate change by examining the interaction of ecological, social and natural factors that interact. In particular, the seminar will draw attention to how laws and policies play a critical role in the everyday lives of people and ecologies in the region and discuss the implications for both the region and beyond. 


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Human Rights & Climate Change: the Case of the Indian Sundarbans


Birsha Ohdedar is a lawyer and researcher on environmental law, climate change and human rights, and currently a PhD candidate at SOAS. His PhD focuses at the relationship between the human right to water and climate change in India. Birsha is a qualified solicitor in New Zealand and currently works as a legal consultant for the Environmental Law & Climate Change department at Simmons & Simmons LLP. In recent years, he has also worked with the Legal Response Initiative, attending UN climate negotiations and providing legal advice to climate vulnerable developing countries.