United Nations adopts resolution on the right to live in a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment
On 28 July 2022, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) adopted a resolution recognising access to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a universal human right for the first time (A/RES/76/300). The resolution comes in response to the ongoing climate crisis, and it is hoped it will be a catalyst to change current environmental practices.
On 8 October 2021, the Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a similar resolution (A/HRC/RES/48/13) recognising the right and invited the UNGA to consider the matter. In its consideration of the HRC’s invitation, the UNGA acknowledges that the non-recognition of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment can have implications on other fundamental rights such as the right to adequate housing and access to food and water.
The UNGA resolution directs states to implement legislation and policies to enforce the right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and stresses the need for the participation of multiple stakeholders in its implementation by calling on national governments, businesses, and international organisations to contribute toward ethical and sustainable practices in realising the right to a clean and healthy environment.
Although not legally binding, it is hoped that the resolution will assist States to accelerate the implementation of their environmental and human rights obligations and commitments.
The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, hailed the development as historic, noting that it “has the potential to be a turning point for humanity, improving the life and enjoyment of human rights of billions of individuals as well as the health of our extraordinary planet.”
The United Nations General Assembly press release can be accessed here.
The 2021 United Nations Human Rights Council resolution can be accessed here.
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