Australian academic Dr Ian Fry has been appointed Special Rapporteur for human rights and climate change by the United Nations overnight.
The ANU lecturer will take on the role, which was created by the UN Human Rights Council last October, for the next three years.
Dr Fry is a dual citizen of Australia and Tuvalu, and was the latter’s Ambassador for Climate Change and Environment between 2015-2019.
He has worked for the Tuvalu government for over 21 years and was lead negotiator for Least Developed Countries on the Paris Agreement.
The Special Rapporteur is a part-time position but involves numerous responsibilities.
They include studying and identifying the adverse effects of climate change and human rights, and blending indigenous and traditional knowledge with respect to climate.
“I am truly honoured and feel a deep sense of responsibility in taking on this position. It is an enormous challenge,” Dr Fry said in a statement issued by ANU on Saturday.
He said he knew from personal experience working in a coral atoll nation that the human rights of inhabitants are being affected by climate change.
“We already know that thousands of people are being displaced each day as a consequence of climate change-related weather events,” he said.
“I hope I can do it justice. There is so much at stake.”
Dr Fry is expected to undertake two country visits per year and report his finding to meetings of the Human Rights Council in Geneva.