HRW: UN must act to recognize the right to a healthy environment
distelAPPArath / Pixabay
HRW: UN must act to recognize the right to a healthy environment

Human Rights Watch released a report on Wednesday urging the United Nations Human Rights Council to act to recognize the right to a healthy environment and stated that governments should prioritize addressing the global environmental crisis.

The report addresses the statements made by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who said when speaking to the UN Human Rights Council at the beginning of its current session, three weeks ago:

A safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is the foundation of human life. But today, because of human action – and inhuman inaction – the triple planetary crises of climate change, pollution, and nature loss is directly and severely impacting a broad range of rights, including the rights to adequate food, water, education, housing, health, development, and even life itself.

Human Rights Watch suggests that, as the session draws to a close, governments should take this opportunity to protect the environment, and support these initiatives first by recognizing the right to a healthy environment.

This comes after the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly passing a resolution urging the Council of Europe’s Committee of Ministers to adopt an additional protocol to the European Convention of Human Rights establishing an enforceable “right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.”

The report also suggests the creation of a UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and climate change, a proposal first received in June, where an independent expert would help to increase governments accountability for rights abused which are linked to climate change, as well as guiding governments on how to uphold their climate change rights obligations.

Human Rights Watch acknowledged the importance of this matter of credibility for governments aspiring to do their part to save the planet, in the lead-up to the UN Climate Change Conference taking place in the United Kingdom on October 31st.