During her contribution to an expert seminar at New York University today, FI’s Representative at the UN Marya Farah relayed the concrete concerns of Franciscans and other partners globally that already experience the effects of environmental degradation.
FI stressed the importance of the recognition of the right to a healthy environment for civil society efforts at the UN in both Geneva and New York, emphasizing that “full recognition at the UN will serve to standardize and lift national ambitions and norms, and support the monitoring and enforcement of such laws. Recognition will also provide for more coherence throughout the UN, including via the systematization of the right.” This contribution added to those of high-level speakers, including the UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights and the current and former UN Special Rapporteurs on human rights and the environment.
The affirmation of the right to a healthy environment by the General Assembly will be critical to strengthen accountability of governments and positively impact efforts at the national level for human rights based environmental policies. As speakers stressed during the event, it also is an important tool for anyone fighting to keep our planet livable for future generations. This is especially true for environmental human rights defenders, who often face particular risks because of their work.
In October 2021, the UN Human Rights Council already paved the way by adopting a landmark resolution, recognizing the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. The decision, which followed years of sustained advocacy by civil society, is a key step in acknowledging the strong links between the state of the environment and the enjoyment of all human rights.
A recording of the full event is available here.