Do more for the environment or risk turning the planet into a ‘human sacrifice zone’: UN experts


UN-appointed independent rights expert David Boyd led the call for countries to enact constitutional amendments and strict environmental laws to bring about positive change, saying that all such discussions must come from recognizing everyone has the right to a healthy environment

Rights inspiration

Following that call, Marcos Orellana, UN Special Rapporteur on Toxic Substances and Human Rights, also said that we should not forget how human rights inspired key elements of the original 1972 Stockholm Declaration.

“This is an important moment for international environmental law to change direction and embrace a human rights-based approach to environmental protection,” he added.

Multiple benefits

The experts emphasized that “putting human rights at the heart of environmental action” positive implications for air quality, clean water, healthy soil and sustainably produced food

A rights-based approach would also help”green energy, climate change, biodiversity and the elimination of toxic substances and (the) protection of the rights of indigenous peoplesthey added.

Multiple challenges stand in the way of progress in environmental action, including climate shock, biodiversity loss and pollution — all of which affect the enjoyment of human rights, the experts claimed.

Date to remember

In October 2021, the Human Rights Council in Geneva recognized for the first time the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment in a landmark resolution.

The resolution was the culmination of decades of efforts by civil society organizations, including youth groups, national human rights institutions and indigenous peoples.

Kaye and Orellana, along with fellow Special Rapporteurs Francisco Calí Tzay and Ian Fry – encouraged states to encourage the UN General Assembly to consider recognizing the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as soon as possible. as the UN Human Rights Council had done.

General Assembly call

“A General Assembly resolution on the right to a healthy environment would reinforce the urgency of actions to implement the right,” they said in a statement, adding: “We are all extremely lucky to live on this wondrous planet. , and we need the right to a healthy environment to ensure that governments, businesses and people can better care for the home we all share.”

Special Rapporteurs and independent experts are appointed by the Human Rights Council to investigate and report on a specific human rights issue or situation in a country. They are independent of any government and are not paid for their work.

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