Human rights and the environment

Among the human rights being threatened and violated by the deterioration of the environment and the decline of biodiversity are the rights to life, health, food, a healthy environment, water, an adequate standard of living and culture.

While COVID-19 has dominated the news in 2020, the global environmental crisis remains unresolved. Nonetheless, there are some reasons for hope that recognition of the right to a healthy environment has not been forgotten.

In September 2020, hundreds of civil society organizations from all over the world sent a letter to the Human Rights Council and all UN member states, urging recognition of the right to a healthy environment. Then a core group supporting the mandate on human rights and the environment (Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, and Switzerland) issued a statement endorsing the need for a resolution on this right. Finally, the HRC adopted a resolution in October 2020 on children and the environment that included a call for all States to consider recognizing the right to a healthy environment in their national laws.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrates, more than ever, how human actions can damage ecosystems and biodiversity and how the consequences of these actions are increasingly disastrous. That is why it is of urgent importance to discuss the linkages between human rights and the health of the environment the actions we need to take to preserve, protect and restore the environment that we all depend on.