Historic UN general assembly resolution recognises right to healthy environment

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Today, the UN General Assembly made history. Today, the General Assembly adopted a resolution recognising the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Today, the General Assembly delivered a victory for people and planet.

The resolution adopted today was 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. In October 2021, it was recognized by the UN Human Rights Council. Today’s decision elevates the right to where it belongs: universal recognition.

The resolution demonstrates that countries are in solidarity with billions of people suffering under the weight of the triple planetary crisis of climate change, nature and biodiversity loss, and pollution and waste. It will help people stand up for their right to a safe climate, their right to breathe clean air and their rights to access clean and safe water, adequate food, healthy ecosystems and nontoxic environments.

So, the recognition of this right is a victory we should celebrate. My thanks to Member States and to the thousands of civil society organizations and indigenous peoples’ groups, and tens of thousands of young people who advocated relentlessly for this right.

But now we must build on this victory and implement the right, because the triple planetary crisis is a huge threat to present and future generations. If nations implement this right fully, it will change so much – by empowering action on the triple planetary crisis, providing a more predictable and consistent global regulatory environment for businesses, and protecting those who defend nature.

UNEP is committed to assisting Member States and all stakeholders as they implement this vital right. I urge all nations of the world to get to work – so we can place a healthy environment at the centre of human wellbeing, sustainable development and the enjoyment of all human rights.

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