A PROMINENT environmental campaigner has warned that climate justice must be at the heart of the battle against climate change or there may be no way back from catastrophe.

Kumi Naidoo, former secretary general of Amnesty International and former executive director of Greenpeace International, was speaking as some of the biggest players on the world stage of climate change prepare to gather at the second World Forum on Climate Justice at Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) next week.

“Unless we put climate justice at the centre of our efforts, we will almost certainly fail,” said Naidoo.

“Now, more than ever, we need to popularise the idea of climate justice, broaden and deepen its scope and hopefully use it as part of our arsenal to avert catastrophic climate change.

“Hopefully this conference will help in that journey.”

Other big names attending the event, organised by GCU’s Centre for Climate Justice, are Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO director general, Princess Esméralda of Belgium, human rights’ campaigner and environmental activist, and and Nigel Topping, UK Government Champion for UN climate talks.

The event on September 21-23 takes place as the planet is still grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic and just two months before global leaders meet in Glasgow for COP26, both of which will be reflected in the forum themes, recognising the need to incorporate climate justice into global climate governance and the post-pandemic recovery.

Professor Tahseen Jafry, conference chair and director of the Centre for Climate Justice, said: “We hope to inspire and motivate by bringing together some of the strongest minds from across the regions of the world to help guide the road map to recovery, building resilience and preventing catastrophic devastation to the lives and livelihoods of many thousands of people.”

Former Republic of Ireland president Dr Mary Robinson will make a keynote address, with contributions from a host of other high-profile figures, including Mithika Mwenda, executive director for Pan African Climate Justice Alliance and Claudia de Windt, founder and CEO of the Inter-American Institute on Justice.

GCU held its inaugural world forum, in partnership with Elsevier, in 2019, which was attended by hundreds of people and a strong line-up of speakers, including First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, Dr Mary Robinson and Dr Kerry Kennedy.

Topping said: “I am very much looking forward to contributing to the important conversations that need to take place in tackling the imminent climate crisis we all face.

“I am pleased to see that there is a university research centre that has recognised climate justice is a very integral part of the debate on solving the climate emergency and a cornerstone to building resilience.”

Runa Khan said: “With COP26 just around the corner, our voices must incorporate the learnings from the pandemic and the negative climate impacts, which are happening on a daily basis, changing life on our planet.

“The World Forum on Climate Justice brings together knowledge and resilient practices from these experiences, helping us in the pursuit of a more climate-just world.”

De Windt said: “The world is at a critical inflection point, facing two intricately entwined crisis that transcend all borders. We need to rebuild and emerge stronger and better after the pandemic.

“We also need to understand the roots of the climate crisis to address justly the inequities it fuels across all dimensions of sustainability."

Jafry added: “As the world’s climate warms at an unprecedented rate, the resultant impacts will be felt most by those who have contributed the least to global carbon emissions.

“On top of this, we find that it is the same communities that are facing the worst experiences in coping with the COVID-19 pandemic. “Ahead of the COP26 Summit being held in Glasgow in November, this forum will provide an opportunity to examine, discuss and debate how to ensure equity and justice are enshrined as core values on the road by developing climate just and sustainable solutions for the benefit of all of humanity not just the privileged few.”