#1Planet1Right: make it a human right to live on a healthy planet
It’s no secret that our natural world is in terrible shape. Our unsustainable system is causing climate chaos and putting over one million species at risk of extinction. BirdLife is mobilising communities to change the systems that underpin our consumption and our economies.
As COVID-19 reminds us, the destruction of nature harms people directly. Lest we forget, we are part of nature, and we need a healthy planet to survive together. A post-COVID recovery must be a green recovery, with the human right to a healthy natural environment at its core.
To that end, we launched a long-term global campaign with our Partners to make it a universal right, recognised by the United Nations, to live on a healthy planet.
How can something as fundamental as life on Earth be treated with such neglect? We need to completely change the way we treat our home. We, as do all other living beings, deserve the right to a healthy natural world.
It may seem overwhelming, but it’s true: to emerge from these crises, to ensure our future and that of the planet, we need to entirely transform humanity’s relationship with nature. This human right helps make that happen.
The campaign has been endorsed by diverse influencers such as Dr. David Boyd, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Environment & Human Rights, and the renowned international justice barrister Prof. Philippe Sands. Groups such as Patagonia, Client Earth and the Global Pact for the Environment joined with over 900 other civil society organisations and companies to call on the United Nations to codify this right.
The right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is already covered in constitutions and laws in a substantial majority of countries around the world, as well as regional systems. There is a growing legal system for implementing and applying the right, too.
Now human rights advocates, Indigenous peoples, climate activists and social justice campaigners are urging the UN Human Rights Council to formalise this recognition and make it universal. In doing so, the Human Rights Council would prompt countries to strengthen policies and legislation to take better care of nature and biodiversity. This would lead to cleaner air, greater access to safe drinking water and lower greenhouse gas emissions. It would also provide environmental justice for communities that are exposed to degraded and dangerous environments, such as toxic air or disease.
“It is time for global recognition of the human right to a healthy environment – recognition that can lead to stronger policies, at all levels, to protect our planet and our children.”
Michelle Bachelet, High Commissioner for Human Rights, United Nations
1 Planet 1 Right by Tim Arinaitwe
History shows us what can be achieved with enough ambition and political will. BirdLife CEO Patricia Zurita argues the case for embedding nature conservation into the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.