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Humans & Habitats: rethinking rights in an age of climate change

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On Saturday 26 April 2008, the Centre for the Study of Human Rights, in partnership with Friends of the Earth, Human Rights Watch and the Guardian, hosted a successful one day public conference 'Humans & Habitats: rethinking rights in an age of climate change'. Over 250 human rights and environmental activists, academics, high-school students, researchers and interested members of the public attended the event, with keynote contributions from Mark Lynas, author of 'Six Degrees: Our future on a hotter planet', Tony Juniper from Friends of the Earth and Arvind Ganesan from Human Rights Watch.

The aim of the conference was to investigate how together the human rights and environment movements can find real solutions to climate change that respect human rights and prevent the worst off facing even greater hardship. The conference programme included six workshop: The Right to Knowledge, The Right to Resist, The Right to Space, The Right to Pollute and Exploit, The Right to Development and The Right to a Healthy Environment - which offered conference participations the opportunity to contribute and debate some of the key issues at stake in the challenge of climate change and its impacts on people.

The 'Word Up' creative writing competition for young people was run in conjunction with the conference. We asked high school students to tell us their opinions and ideas about climate change and solutions. We received hundreds of outstanding entries - stories, essays, poems and songs - from young people aged 11 - 17.

The winners of the competition were announced at the final session of the conference and certificates and prizes were awarded to Holly Everest (Tolworth Girls School), Mehdi Ghassemizadeh (Mill Hill County High School) and Shuhena Bhanu (Tower Hamlets Sixth Form College).

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