Human Rights and the Environment
A new report released on June 20th, in conjunction with an event held at the Rio+20 Conference, co-authored by UNEP and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), addresses human rights and the environment.
“This report addresses how human rights and the environment can play an integral, indivisible role in achieving sustainable development and equality of access to basic needs such as freshwater food and employment while demonstrating how environmental and human rights policies affect each other and can support each other in common cause,” said UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. “Both the two themes for Rio+20 – the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication and Institutional Framework for Sustainable Development – go to the heart of the current international debate on human rights and the environment,” he added. “Rio+20 is an opportunity to elevate environmental sustainability from the margins into the center of fundamental human values and human rights – not only for this generation but for those generations to come.”
“Efforts to encourage sustainable development must recognize the relationship between human rights and the environment and ensure their mutual benefits are realized,” said Navi Pillay, High Commissioner for Human Rights. “Without integrating human rights and environmental protection, sustainable development and the green economy will not succeed.”
The report addresses a number of salient aspects of the role human rights plays in the institutional framework of sustainable development. Specifically, the report: (1) Highlights the relationship between human rights and the environment at the international, the regional, and national levels; (2) Integrates human rights and the environment in developing the green economy using green accounting. Recognizes substantive human rights that require sustainable development, procedural rights in the environmental context, and the rights of indigenous peoples; (3) Deconstructs the institutional framework, including the proliferation of institutions to address sustainable development and mechanism to provide international accountability of actions involving human rights and the environment; and (4) Demonstrates a way forward, addressing both barriers to rights-based approaches and the implementation of a rights-based approach to human rights and the environment within the context of sustainable development.
A pdf of the report is available here.