World Environment Day

Today, 5th of June, we celebrate World Environment Day! In recent years, awareness of the connections between human rights and the environment has significantly risen. In October 2021, through the adoption of Resolution 48/13 (A/HRC/RES/48/13), the Human Rights Council first recognized the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (HRHE). This resolution is a call for states to cooperate together and build capacities to protect the environment. In July 2022, the HRHE was officially recognised as a human right by the General Assembly (A/RES/76/300). Both resolutions are a great achievement and send a powerful message that there is  widespread, worldwide support for this right – which is already recognised in 156 countries at the national and regional levels. We need to keep focusing on the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment which includes water conservation and policy change.

There is a rapid increase in the number and breadth of international and domestic laws, judicial rulings, and academic research focusing on this relationship. It is essential that we support policies that protect our water resources and promote conservation efforts for a more sustainable future. 

The right to a healthy environment has substantive and procedural elements: The substantive elements include clean air; a safe and stable climate; access to safe water and adequate sanitation; healthy and sustainably produced food; non-toxic environments in which to live, work, study and play; and healthy biodiversity and ecosystems. The procedural elements include access to information, the right to participate in decision-making, and access to justice and effective remedies, including the secure exercise of these rights free from reprisals and retaliation.

On 3 April 2024,  the Human Rights Council designated Astrid Puentes Riaño as Special Rapporteur on the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (A/HRC/RES/55/2).