Rebecca Attwood, of EJF, at Hay Festival Winter Weekend

Rebecca Attwood, of EJF, at Hay Festival Winter Weekend

I grew up in Hay, in the golden valleys under the black mountains. I don’t live there at the moment but it’s where my roots are, my heritage – my corner of British culture. My home.
At this year’s Hay Festival Winter Weekend I spoke alongside Natalie Bennett, Leader of the Green Party, and Maggie Simmons from the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, about the effects climate change is having on human rights around the world. As severe weather causes more and more people to be forced from their homes, lands and livelihoods, we considered the human impacts of climate change – particularly how it will affect both the reality of, and our perception of home.
In 2012, 31.7 million people were forced from their homes due to extreme weather events. 1 person every second.  But typhoons, rising sea levels, drought and other manifestations of climate change seem far removed from the lush green landscapes and quiet villages surrounding Hay-on-Wye and much of the UK for that matter. This is exactly why the Hay Festival is so important in allowing us, and encouraging us to challenge our imaginations, to let our minds delve and explore a different landscape from the one we are lucky enough to be in.
What would it be like, for example, if a typhoon such as Haiyan came tearing through the Brecon Beacons – or how it would feel if our belongings were swept off down the River Wye, or if a drought year on year meant the hill farmers couldn’t grow their crops or feed their animals.? If we were forced, from one day to the next, to leave the peaceful valleys of the Welsh borders.? This is a reality faced by millions of people worldwide every year – people who have their worlds turned upside down by extreme weather. Climate change isn’t a problem we may encounter in future. The impacts are devastating now.
Individuals, communities, countries and the global community urgently need to understand and respond to the threat that climate change poses to our collective human rights. The Environmental Justice Foundation is asking people to consider what home means to them as a way of connecting with the reality that many millions of people are already being forced from their homes, and crucially to inspire urgent action aimed at protecting and assisting vulnerable people on the frontlines of climate change.
The Environmental Justice Foundation’s No Place Like Home campaign is calling for legal recognition, protection and assistance for climate refugees.
 Rebecca Attwood, Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF)