This op-ed by UN Setting Program (UNEP) Govt Director Inger Andersen was initially revealed on July 13, 2022 in Reuters
So lots of the human rights we take with no consideration immediately as soon as didn’t exist: the proper to life, the proper to non secular freedom, the proper to work, the proper to well being, the rights to schooling, freedom from slavery and torture. These rights might not be universally utilized, however as soon as they have been adopted, they introduced progress – not least by permitting folks to demand these rights.
When the United Nations Normal Meeting meets in July, it has the chance so as to add one other universally acknowledged proper to this checklist, one which we’d like now greater than some other time in historical past: the proper to a clear, wholesome and sustainable setting.
The meeting should undertake a decision recognizing this proper – as a result of the triple planetary disaster of local weather change, nature and biodiversity loss, and air pollution and waste is a large risk to humanity’s current and future generations. This disaster is undermining virtually each different proper we’ve already acknowledged.
9 out of ten kids are uncovered to lethal air air pollution, violating their proper to well being. A median of 4 environmental defenders are murdered each week, violating their proper to life. Local weather change is forcing folks out of their properties, violating their proper to satisfactory housing. Nature and biodiversity is in fast decline, violating the proper to self-determination and cultural id of indigenous peoples.
We have now seen necessary advances on the proper to a wholesome setting, which first emerged as an idea on the worldwide stage 5 a long time in the past on the 1972 Stockholm Convention on the Human Setting.
We have now additionally seen progress on the nationwide and regional ranges, with 80 per cent of nations now recognizing the proper of their home authorized frameworks or regional treaties, albeit inconsistently.
In October final yr, the UN Human Rights Council acknowledged this human proper for the primary time. This second was the results of coordinated efforts from states, civil society, indigenous peoples, youth, nationwide human rights establishments, enterprise communities and UN our bodies. It confirmed that working collectively for a standard purpose can convey outcomes.
The October resolution is already having constructive impacts. It’s boosting the implementation of environmental and human rights legal guidelines and commitments, offering higher safety to environmental defenders, and triggering accelerated environmental motion.
We additionally now have a Particular Rapporteur on the promotion and safety of human rights within the context of local weather change to handle points similar to local weather change-induced displacement, company accountability, inter-generational fairness and a simply transition for staff transferring from climate-harming industries to extra sustainable ones.
As necessary because the UN Human Rights Council’s motion was, recognition of the proper by the UN Normal Meeting, the physique to which all UN member states belong, elevates the proper to the place it belongs: common recognition. Common recognition is a robust catalyst for accelerated environmental motion.
Adopting this decision would assist States to respect, shield, and fulfill the proper to a clear, wholesome, and sustainable setting. It could present a extra predictable and constant international regulatory setting for companies.
Adopting this decision would assist folks get up for his or her proper to breathe clear air and their rights to entry secure and adequate water, wholesome meals, wholesome ecosystems and unhazardous environments. Adopting this decision would ship a message that no person can take nature, clear air and water, or a secure local weather away from us – no less than, not with no combat.
If historical past repeats itself, it may additionally encourage states that have not constitutionalised the proper but to take action.
When the meeting adopted a decision in July 2010 recognizing the proper to secure and clear consuming water and sanitation, it was a catalyst for governments all around the world so as to add the proper to water to their constitutions, their highest and strongest legal guidelines.
We have now waited a very long time for the second when the function of the setting in sustaining all of humanity and different rights we get pleasure from is universally acknowledged. Now, the UN Normal Meeting can present solidarity with the billions of individuals struggling below the rising weight of the triple planetary disaster.
All nations of the world should undertake this decision and get to work implementing it – so we will place a wholesome setting on the middle of human wellbeing and the enjoyment of all human rights.