Over 100 000 citizens demand the UN to recognise a new human right – the right to a healthy planet

Citizens from around the world are demanding that the right to a clean, healthy environment is made a Universal Human Rights. Over 100 000 people have signed the petition. [1]

Right now, as the United Nations General Assembly is taking place, the UN’s Human Rights Council is meeting. This new human right was tabled at the Human Rights Council by five Member States [2]. This is an important first step to resolutions in the Council and eventually the General Assembly.

According to WHO, 23% of global deaths are linked to the damage and destruction of our natural environment, while hundreds of millions of people suffer from illnesses related to unhealthy and unnatural environments. [3] Climate change directly results in more frequent and intense storms, droughts, wildfires and rising sea levels, which in turn threaten the lives of billions of people. The COVID-19 pandemic has its roots in habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade. This new human right can help ensure that the global green recovery the world needs to rebuild society following the pandemic takes both the biodiversity and the climate emergencies into account.

Dr. David R. Boyd, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment: “The right to a healthy planet, as a universally recognized human right, would be a powerful addition to the toolkit for saving the planet. The right to a healthy environment already provides the foundation for much of the progress we are seeing in different nations around the globe. What we need to do now is seize this moment of global eco-crisis to secure United Nations recognition of this right so that everyone, everywhere benefits. The human right to a healthy planet, if recognized by all nations, could be the most important human right of the 21st century.”

Patricia Zurita, CEO, BirdLife International: “Our planet’s health is our health. If our planet is sick, we become sick. And right now, our planet has never been more ill. The survival of humanity is already threatened by the climate and biodiversity crises, and this pandemic has pushed us one step closer to the brink. In order to transform, and save society, the starting point must be to ensure that every person has the same baseline – guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy planet.”


[1] #1Planet1Right is a global campaign demanding the right to a healthy, natural environment to be added to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The campaign is supported by civil society organisations from over 100 countries and counting and will be running until 2023, when it hopes that the right will be added to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to mark its 75th anniversary. Sign the petition and find out more at www.1planet1right.org

[2] Statement by Costa Rica, Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland to the Human Rights Council on September 24, 2020: “It is our belief that a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is integral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water and sanitation. Therefore a possible recognition of the right at a global level could have numerous important implications on our and future generations.”

[3] Hundreds of millions of people suffer from illnesses related to unhealthy and unnatural environments. Find out more in the United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment’s report on ‘Clean air and human rights’ and ‘Safe climate’

[4] According to the World Health Organisation, “an estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments”, such as air pollution, inadequate water sanitation, and the impacts of climate change. https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/15-03-2016-an-estimated-12-6-million-deaths-each-year-are-attributable-to-unhealthy-environments

About BirdLife International BirdLife International is the world’s largest nature conservation Partnership. Together, we are 115 BirdLife Partners worldwide and growing, with almost 11 million supporters, 7,000 local conservation groups and 7,400 staff. BirdLife is widely recognised as the world leader in bird conservation, a United Nations-recognised civil society observer, and our unique local-to-global approach delivers high impact and long-term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. Find out more at www.birdlife.org

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