Africa: Bachelet Hails Landmark Recognition that Having a Healthy Environment is a Human Right

Geneva — UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet on Friday called on States to take bold actions to give prompt and real effect to the right to a healthy environment, following a UN Human Rights Council’s landmark decision.

The Human Rights Council today recognised for the first time that having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is indeed a human right, in its resolution 48/13. The Council called on States to work together, and with other partners, to implement this newly recognized right. At the same time, through a second resolution (48/14), the Council also increased its focus on the human rights impacts of climate change by establishing a Special Rapporteur dedicated specifically to that issue.

“The Human Rights Council’s decisive action in recognising the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is about protecting people and planet – the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat. It is also about protecting the natural systems which are basic preconditions to the lives and livelihoods of all people, wherever they live,” the High Commissioner said. “Having long called for such a step, I am gratified that the Council’s action today clearly recognises environmental degradation and climate change as interconnected human rights crises.”

“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,” she added.