On 28 July 2022, the UN General Assembly (UNGA) adopted the landmark Resolution 76/300 “: “The Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment”. Resolution 76/300 was adopted with overwhelming support: 161 votes in favour, zero against, and 8 abstentions (Belarus, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, and Syria).
This unparalled recognition by the General Assembly (GA) of a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right (”right to a healthy environment”) marks a turning point in the development of sustainability governance, environmental democracy and the unearthing of the missing link between human rights and nature protection. It sends a powerful message that there is a widespread, worldwide support for this right, especially in view of the fact that the vast majority of States have already recognized it at national and international levels.
Recognition of the right to a healthy environment echoes the indispensable need and perspective for reigniting the fundamental expectation of citizenship requiring government to act in loyalty to the public for securing a sustainable future and protecting the interests of present and future generations. It empowers all people with a critical tool to hold their governments, big polluters and all those making decisions and undertaking environmental activities to account. Rights-based and equitable approaches to addressing and shaping governance of climate change, biodiversity and nature loss, and pollution are essential to stimulating a process embracing effective actions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Importantly, they lay the foundations for thinking relationally, holistically and contextually in environmental law and governance and for building transformative societal change. They open up new horizons in a societal trust management of nature, protecting the rights of nature in tandem with human rights fuelled by an inter-generational power.
For an analysis of the UNGA Resolution 76/300 in the process of building international common interest see ARTICLES: Raftopoulos E., “Inter Folia Fulget: The UN General Assembly Resolution 76/300 of 28 July 2022 on “The Human Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment”
The text of the Resolution is reproduced below
United Nations A/RES/76/300 General Assembly Distr.: General 1 August 2022
About the author
Professor Emeritus of International Law, Panteion University, Athens, Greece, Fellow, C-EENRG, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom