The impacts of climate change have direct implications for the efforts of the international community in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). At the same time, as the UN Secretary-General has observed, the MDGs should also contribute to the capacities needed to tackle climate change by providing opportunities for broader improvements in economies, governance, institutions and intergenerational relations and responsibilities (UNITED NATIONS, 2010a, para. 37). Capturing these opportunities, however, will require “a global new deal capable of raising investment levels and channeling resources towards massive investment in renewable energy, and building resilience with respect to unavoidable climate changes.” (UNITED NATIONS, 2010a, para. 39) In this regard, the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) established by the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is an example of a mechanism deployed to raising investments and channeling resources into the Global South.
Against this background, this paper explores the linkages between human rights and the MDGs, international cooperation regarding climate change, and the CDM. The paper uses criteria of the right to development to analyze CDM. CDM provides a clear example of an international partnership between the global South and the industrialized North to achieve the twin objectives of promoting sustainable development and mitigating climate change. The CDM is thus directly relevant to MDG 8 regarding global partnerships and technology transfer, as well as to the other MDGs directly affected by climate change. In addition, a focus on the CDM also raises issues concerning investments and resource flows, technology transfer, environmental integrity, and the meaning and operationalization of a rights-based approach to development, all of which are central to effective and equitable climate change mitigation and to the attainment of the MDGs.