UN Resolution Upholds Right to Healthy, Clean Environment

Published on: 29 July 2022
by KnowESG
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The United Nations General Assembly unanimously endorsed a resolution affirming the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the decision as "historic."

China, Russian Federation, Belarus, Cambodia, Iran, Syria, Kyrgyzstan, and Ethiopia were among the eight countries that abstained from the 193-member international body's voting.

“This landmark development demonstrates that member states can come together in our collective fight against the triple planetary crises of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution,” Guterres’ deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said.

The resolution, which is based on a similar text adopted by the Human Rights Council in Geneva the previous year, urges all states, international organisations, and corporations to intensify their efforts to maintain a healthy environment for all people.

The adoption of the resolution, according to Guterres, was merely the beginning.

Haq stated that he urged all nations to make the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment "a reality for all, everywhere."

General Assembly resolutions, unlike Security Council resolutions, are not legally binding. Russia and those that boycotted said that the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment cannot be legally acknowledged until it is incorporated into international treaties.

Despite this, the General Assembly resolution was welcomed as a landmark, particularly by Inger Andersen, executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme in Nairobi.

Echoing Guterres, she said the General Assembly had “made history,” delivering “a victory for people and planet” that has been five decades in the making.

“From a foothold in the 1972 Stockholm Declaration, the right has been integrated into constitutions, national laws, and regional agreements,” Andersen said. “In October 2021, it was recognised by the U.N. Human Rights Council. Today’s decision elevates the right to where it belongs: universal recognition.”

Source: The Peterborough Examiner

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