UN Endorses Right to a Healthy Planet
In a historic vote, the United Nations General Assembly has voted to endorse the universal human right to a a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
António Guterres, the UN Secretary General saluted the vote, saying, ” I welcome the adoption of the #UNGA resolution recognising the human right to a healthy environment – an important tool for accountability and climate justice. The well-being of people around the world and the survival of future generations depends on the health of our planet.”
161 in favor
In the spring of 2020, as COVID struck, the planet came face to face with just one of the dramatic and catastrophic effects of trashing nature and the planet. Moved by that the CEO of the Spanish BirdLife partner, SEO/BirdLife, Asuncion Ruiz, went to Patricia Zurita, BirdLife’s CEO, with the idea to create a public push for the universal human right to a healthy planet, which had previously been the province of the cognoscenti in global environmental and human rights policy. The two decided to leap off the cliff together and engage the global BirdLife partnership in somewhat unfamiliar terrain. But feeding off each other’s energy they built 1planet1right.org on a shoestring budget. They enlisted Special Rapporteur for the environment and human rights Dr. David Boyd and Professor Philippe Sands to advise them. They brought in Patagonia, Client Earth and The Global Pact to work with them. And BirdLife policy mavens, Melanie Heath, Noelle Kumpel and Amy McDougall led a relentless and patient campaign with colleagues across civil society in the smoke-filled corridors of global policy lobbying.
And miracle of miracles, yesterday afternoon, 28 July 2022, in New York, the United Nations General Assembly heeded their call, and that of many others in civil society, local and indigenous communities.
Although not legally binding, this unequivocal statement is a powerful force for action. When Eleanor Roosevelt championed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in the late 40’s, she said “Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home – so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person…” And so it is now established that that world of the individual person includes a right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. And as Roosevelt also said, it will “serve as a common standard of achievement for all peoples of all nations.”
“The resolution has the potential to be a turning point for humanity, improving the life and enjoyment of human rights of billions of individuals as well as the health of our extraordinary planet. In the face of the triple environmental crisis, the recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is of vital importance.”UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd
The fishing lobby has been violently reacting to the European Commission’s Action Plan that seeks a timid and slow phase-out of bottom trawling inside Marine “Protected” Areas (MPAs). Many false arguments are being used to oppose an obviously needed measure that is crucial for the restoration of biodiversity, protection of carbon stocks and regeneration of fish populations – and hence the future of fishing itself.
Depuis plus de deux décennies, les agriculteurs du village de Ouably-Gondrou, dans la localité de Kouibly située dans l’ouest de la Côte d’Ivoire, ont connu une baisse significative des rendements de cacao en raison de l’abattage des arbres dans les plantations de cacao, ce qui expose les plantes aux rayons nocifs du soleil. SOS-Forêts, partenaire de BirdLife, a mené des initiatives de restauration dans le pays. Lorsque SOS-Forêts a mené une campagne de sensibilisation dans la région en 2021, Clément Sie, un agriculteur de 37 ans, et ses pairs ont compris l’impact de la déforestation sur la production de cacao. En 2022, SOS-Forêts a commencé à mettre en œuvre un projet de restauration financé par TerraFund pour AFR100, visant à restaurer 150 ha de couvert végétal à Kouibly. Solange Kablan de SOS-Forêts s’est entretenue avec Sie qui explique son implication dans le projet.
With more than 30 years of experience in conserving Gola Rainforest, Sierra Leone, BirdLife partners are deploying a whole suite of different methods to protect this unique and bird-rich hotspot – from carbon credits and chocolate production to training rangers and youth volunteers. And it’s paying off for the local people too.