The right to a healthy environment, a universal human right and an emergency for all levels of governance

Congress Strasbourg 9 August 2022
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The right to a healthy environment, a universal human right and an emergency for all levels of governance

Following the resolution just adopted by the United Nations General Assembly declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a universal human right, Congress spokesperson on human rights Harald Bergmann (Netherlands, ILDG), welcomed this historic decision. "This recognition is a landmark development which demonstrates the urgency of collective action, at all levels of governance, to preserve our environment and fight climate change," he said, recalling that the Congress has consistently advocated the crucial and leading role of local and regional authorities.

"The Congress is convinced that a safe and healthy environment is a precondition for the enjoyment of human rights and that this is a shared responsibility. What we are aiming for is a 'green reading' of the European Charter of Local Self-Government, i.e. an interpretation of its provisions from the point of view of environmental protection, as well as the strengthening of the position of local and regional authorities in environmental decision-making," he stressed, referring to the report adopted by the Monitoring Committee in Istanbul on 30 June, which will be debated at the 43rd Congress Session (25-27 October 2022).

The Congress proposes to draw up an Additional Protocol to the Charter which guarantees local governance in environmental matters and raises awareness of local and regional authorities. Furthermore, in order to assist local and regional authorities and their administrations, the Congress is preparing a third volume of the Human Rights Handbook series for local and regional elected representatives on the environment and sustainable development, to be published in October 2022.

 Human rights at local and regional levels

 Achieving the SDGs requires to involve local and regional authorities in structured consultation with central governments

Safeguards built into the European Convention on Human Rights are working to promote environmental protections.
See some examples of how the ECHR is addressing human rights issues related to the environment.

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