In Resolution // 1, the Council calls on States around the world to work together and with other partners to implement this newly recognized right.
The proposed text in Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland was passed in the absence of votes in favor of Russia, India, China and Japan.
At the same time, through the Second Resolution (// 1), the Council has increased its focus on the human rights impact of climate change, particularly by establishing a special correspondent dedicated to that issue.
In a statement, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet called on member states to take bold steps to quickly and realistically impact the right to a healthy environment.
Ms Bachelet said she had long called for such a move, adding that she was “satisfied” that the decision “recognizes environmental degradation and climate change as interconnected human rights crises.”
“The need now is to ensure this resolution on the right to a healthy environment, which serves as a springboard for transformative economic, social and environmental policies that will protect people and nature,” he said.
At the beginning of the current session of the Human Rights Council, the High Commissioner described the triple planetary threat of climate change, pollution and nature damage as the greatest human rights challenge of our era.
The new resolution acknowledges that millions of people worldwide are affected by climate change and environmental destruction. This further underscores that the most vulnerable segments of the population are most severely affected.
The issue will now go to the UN General Assembly in New York, for further consideration.
Decades long effort
After the resolution was passed, Michelle Bachelet paid tribute to the efforts of various civil society organizations, including youth societies, national human rights organizations, indigenous people’s organizations, businesses and many others.
The High Commissioner noted that an unprecedented number of environmental human rights defenders had been killed in the past year, urging member states to take strong measures to protect and empower them.
“We need to build on this momentum to move beyond the false isolation of environmental action and the protection of human rights. It is clear that nothing can be achieved without a goal, ”he said.
Costa Rican Ambassador Catalina Debandas Aguilar, one of the co-promoters of the resolution, said the decision would send a strong message to communities struggling with global climate issues that they are not alone.
The decision comes just weeks before the UN climate change summit COP26 in early November in Glasgow.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 24% of total deaths worldwide due to risks such as air pollution and chemical exposure, about 13.7 million deaths a year are associated with the environment.