In a landmark resolution adopted on 8 October 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Council recognised that a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right. Although the right to a healthy environment was already recognised by over 80 per cent of UN Member States through national law, court decisions or regional treaties, the Council's formal recognition marks a watershed moment in the global fight against the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of UNEP, praised the adoption of the resolution as "an important step in building the planet as a safe and fair home to all", calling it "a shield for individuals and communities against a plethora of risks to their health and livelihoods". Leaders are now calling for a similar resolution to be adopted at the UN General Assembly to achieve universal recognition of the right to a healthy environment by a body with the membership of all UN Member States.
Read more about UNEP's work on the right to a healthy environment here.