UN Institutions to uphold right to a healthy environment

Mazino Dickson

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In a landmark move, the UN Environment and the UN Human Rights Office have signed an agreement to promote and protect environmental and human rights.

At the signing ceremony in Geneva, UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen said it was time for a paradigm shift in human and environmental matters

A healthy environment is vital to fulfilling our aspiration to ensure people everywhere live a life of dignity.  We must curb the emerging trend of intimidation and criminalisation of land and environmental defenders, and the use of anti-protest and anti-terrorism laws to criminalise the exercise of rights that should be constitutionally protected,” she said.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet lamented that the global environmenr was being recklessly destroyed, stressing that urgent action in the form of stronger global partnerships to take action to save it.

We call on leaders and governments to recognise that climate change and environmental degradation severely undermine the human rights of their people, particularly those in vulnerable situations – including the generations of tomorrow,” Bachelet noted.

The Agreement

This agreement is expected to drive better protection of environmental human rights defenders and their families, who frequently face killings, sexual violence, smear campaigns, and other forms of intimidation.

The partnership will also encourage greater acceptance by leaders and governments of the human right to a healthy environment pursuing efforts toward its global recognition.

It will seek to increase support to national governments to promote human rights-based policies, particularly in terms of sustainable management of natural resources, development planning, and action to combat climate change.