On the 28th of July, the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution recognising the human right to a clean and healthy environment.
The draft text had been submitted to the Assembly in June by Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland and was presented by Switzerland. The resolution was brief in its content, primarily affirming a right that had earlier been recognised as a part of international human rights law and procedures by the UN Human Rights Council.
The resolution also affirmed that the promotion of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment “requires the full implementation of the multilateral environmental agreements under the principles of international environmental law”. This affirmation formally links multilateral environmental agreements such as the Framework Convention Climate Change and the Convention on Biological Diversity to human rights procedures.
The foundations for the UNGA resolution lay in October 2021, when the United Nations Human Rights Council approved a resolution on the “human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment” which recognised that the impact of climate change, the unsustainable management and use of natural resources, the pollution of air, land and water, the unsound management of chemicals and waste, the loss of biodiversity and the decline of ecosystems interfere with the enjoyment of a clean and healthy environment.
In addition, the Human Rights Council emphasised procedural rights such as the right to seek, receive and impart information and to participate in government and public affairs in environmental decision making.
Recent inventories have revealed a growing number of threats against environmental human rights defenders and a rate of killings of environmental activists rising to two a week.