GANHRI welcomes landmark recognition by UN human rights body of the right to healthy environment as a universal human right



Geneva, 8 October 2021The UN Human Rights Council today has adopted a resolution recognising a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as a universal human right.

GANHRI had supported the initiative proposed by a core group of UN member states, joining the call from civil society, indigenous peoples, business actors and UN agencies.

In a statement delivered at the HRC 48 session, GANHRI called on all states to adopt the proposed resolution. Member States also created a new mandate for a UN Special Procedure on human rights and climate change.

The dramatic impacts of climate change have demonstrated how integral a healthy environment is to the enjoyment of all other rights, including the right to life.

“The formal recognition at UN level of the right to a healthy environment as a universal human right now makes it crystal clear that all states have an obligation to protect, respect and fulfil this right” said GANHRI Geneva Representative Katharina Rose commenting on the adoption.

This will bolster support to states at national level to improve their performance on environmental issues – including for those that have not yet done so to formally recognize the right to a healthy environment in their domestic legislation.

It will also give much-needed impetus for continued global rights-based action in the face of the environmental and climate crisis.

“Bold action is now required to ensure this resolution on the right to a healthy environment serves as a springboard to push for transformative economic, social and environmental policies that will protect people and nature,” said UN High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet in a press statement, also commenting on the adoption.

Along the creation of the new mandate of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, the explicit recognition of the right to a healthy environment also supports the legitimate role and vital contribution of environmental human rights defenders and communities in defending rights against adverse climate and environmental impacts.

Together with UN experts, civil society and human rights defenders, NHRIs in all regions will continue advising states, whilst monitoring and reporting on their performance on environmental and climate change issues.

The HR to a healthy environment