> Posted by Maria Otero, Board Member, Oxfam America and former President and CEO, Accion

This article was originally published by Quartz.

This week’s climate change agreement is a major milestone that will shape our future, and CFI would like to mark the occasion by offering these reflections by former Accion President and CEO, Maria Otero, on the importance of climate action for the well-being of people living at the base of the pyramid. The post was written a few days before the convening in Paris. It is heartening to note that such a positive step forward has emerged.

On Dec. 10, 1948 representatives from around the world met in Paris to sign the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the aftermath of World War II. Sixty-seven years later, representatives from around the world are meeting there again to negotiate another monumental agreement: an international deal on climate change.

It may not seem like these global events are related but, in fact, climate change is one of the greatest human-rights challenges of our time. The signers of the Universal Declaration agreed that all people have the right to basic sustenance, protection, and freedom; including rights to food, health, shelter, and self-determination.

From the devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, to the severe drought exacerbating the refugee crisis in Syria, extreme weather continues to result in severe, and often irreversible, social and economic harm to millions of people around the world. From hunger to homelessness, forced displacement, and loss of livelihoods, human rights are in jeopardy.

And so, in the spirit of what their predecessors achieved 67 years ago, negotiators at the climate talks in Paris must not only deliver a global deal that curbs climate change, but also one that upholds human rights.

In its recent report, Extreme Carbon Inequality,” Oxfam looks at consumption emissions of rich and poor citizens in different countries based on data from the World Bank, Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the Centre for Global Development climate-change vulnerability index. We estimate that the world’s richest 10% produce half of carbon emissions, while the poorest 3.5 billion account for just a tenth.

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