We respectfully write to you today to convey the hopes and expectations of over 1,350 civil society organizations, social, environmental, youth, gender equality and human rights movements, trade unions, local communities and indigenous peoples who united their voices to urge the United Nations to recognize without further delay the right of everyone to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
the undersigned represent a group of organizations engage with the United Nations (UN) on issues of human rights and environmental justice.
We are writing to draw your attention to an urgent issue that must be addressed by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA): the universal recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
As you may remember, on October 8, 2021, during its 48th session, the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 48/13 with 43 votes, no objections and only 4 abstentions which “recognize[d] the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right important for the enjoyment of human rights”. In doing so, the HRC has taken a decisive first step towards ensuring that United Nations human rights institutions can better address one of the most pressing threats to the enjoyment of human rights. The resolution called on the UNGA to consider the issue. During the informal meeting of the GA plenary, held on January 19, 2022, to hear the President’s briefing on his priorities for the resumed seventy-sixth session, the representatives of the Maldives and Costa Rica called on the GA to adopt a resolution reaffirming priority recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. In addition, several Member States mentioned the importance of universal recognition of this right during consultations held earlier this month on the Protect Our Planet dimension of Our Common Agenda (OCA).
We therefore encourage Your Excellency and Your Permanent Mission to proactively engage with others to ensure the smooth adoption of a UNGA resolution reaffirming recognition of this right without delay.
The dramatic real-world events resulting from environmental destruction and pollution on every continent show the daily impacts on people of our failure to recognize the links between a healthy environment and people’s well-being. Recent scientific reports from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services confirm this reality. There is an urgent need for States to take ambitious and coordinated action – grounded in human rights law and principles – to lay the foundations for accelerated action to halt and reverse environmental decline for survival. of all life on earth and the benefit of people and the planet.
The UNGA now has a key role to play in strengthening the recognition of everyone’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Doing so now would provide a powerful message when states gather in Stockholm in June to commemorate the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment and celebrate 50 years of global environmental action. Universal recognition will catalyze progress at the national level and contribute to the ability of people everywhere to lead healthy lives.
Support for universal recognition is broad and diverse. Other recent initiatives in support of universal recognition include:
We call on the UNGA to add its voice to this important support for the recognition of the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
On behalf of the signatories listed below, we would like to express our gratitude for your consideration of this global appeal and remain at your disposal and that of your permanent mission for any questions related to the upcoming adoption of a UNGA resolution. reaffirming the recognition of everyone’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
David Nichols, United Nations Representative and Senior Counsel (New York), Amnesty International
Noelle Kumpel, Policy Officer, Bird Life International
Carroll Muffett, President and CEO, Center for International Environmental Law
Blair Nelsen, UN Representative, Congregation of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Peace
Martin Wagner, General Counsel, International Program, landjustice
Marya Farah, United Nations Representative – New York, Franciscans International
Yann Aguila, Managing Director, Global Compact Coalition
Richard Pearshouse, Director of the Environment and Human Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
Massimo Frigo, United Nations Representative and Principal Legal Adviser, International Commission of Jurists
Andrea Carmen, Executive Director, International Indian Treaty Council (IITC)
Teresa Koturan & Michelle Loisel, NGO Representatives at the UN, New York for the Federation of the Sisters of Charity
Leila Asrari, Representative to the United Nations and Head of New York Office, International level
Wang Le, United Nations Representative and Director of the Global Advocacy Office in New York, Save the Children International
R. Múkaro Agüeibaná Borrero, Acting Executive Director, Tribal Link Foundation
Marc Limon, Executive Director, Universal Rights Group
Şehnaz Kıymaz Bahçeci, coordinator, Large female group
Delfin Ganapin, Head, Governance Practice, WWF-International
With the support of :
John H. KnoxProfessor of Law, Wake Forest University, former UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment