Hohmann, Jessie M. (2009) Igloo as icon: a human rights approach to climate change for the Inuit? Transnational Law and Contemporary Problems 18(2): 295-316

Keywords: architecture and designclimate changehuman rightsinfrastructuresustainability

This paper is an exploration of what a 'human rights approach' to climate change can offer Inuit communities. It analyzes the potential contribution of the discourse of human right to housing, which recognizes that housing must be culturally adequate; that its location must allow access to employment and social facilities; and that certain services, materials, facilities, and infrastructure must be available to the inhabitants. The author discusses the implications of climate change for Inuit regarding issues of identity, cultural portrayal, and housing.

Almost all Inuit live in settled communities in Euro-Canadian style housing. However, the imported construction materials and design of the homes still have not suitable for harsh climate. While innovative architectural designs that better suit both the climate and Inuit culture are beginning to emerge, the living standards for Inuit still fall far below the national average.

The author argues that climate change has direct and specific consequences for several of the seven elements of the right to housing, resulting in a lack of full enjoyment of this right. The elements are: the availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure, location, and cultural adequacy.