The United Nations has formally acknowledged the suitable to a wholesome setting. Here is what it means. – Greenpeace Worldwide

The historic current United Nations Basic Meeting (UNGA) decision recognizing a clear, wholesome and sustainable setting as a common human proper didn’t come out of the blue.

Landslide assist for the proposal (none in favor, eight votes not in opposition to*) adopted over a decade of activism and advocacy by professionals, communities and environmental justice actions all over the world.

Greenpeace campaigner Khavin Yu referred to as for “local weather justice now” amid the particles attributable to Storm Odette within the Philippines’ metropolis of Surigao in December 2021. © Jilson TU / Greenpeace

When the United Nations appointed an unbiased professional on human rights and the setting in 2012, it was 40 years because the first United Nations International Convention on the Surroundings in Stockholm, after the Stockholm Declaration that acknowledged the setting as a serious world problem for the primary time. given place. The present Particular Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Surroundings, David R. Boyd, pushed for adoption final October of the suitable, based mostly on calls for from teams together with indigenous peoples, social actions, native communities, academia and Greenpeace. For a wholesome setting by the United Nations Human Rights Council (‘HRC’).

Local weather and environmental litigation – advocacy for the planet – was gaining momentum and fewer than a 12 months after the HRC, the UNGA’s landmark decision broke down the wall of cynical billion-dollar industrial propaganda that denounced, rejected the setting. and tries to cut back and human rights atrocities due to their professions.

Climate justice demands for Vanuatu in The Hague, Netherlands © Maarten van Dijl / Greenpeace
Activists Churmar (L) and Meralani Bomba (R) specific their solidarity for local weather justice for Vanuatu in The Hague, Netherlands. Vanuatu’s prime minister introduced plans in September 2021 to type a coalition of states to ask the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice (ICJ) for an opinion on local weather change. © Maarten van Diesel / Greenpeace

intensifying environmental litigation

Whereas many instances have been argued, a number of extra outstanding instances are nonetheless ongoing – with every case gaining a powerful foothold for the others and including weight to the central argument that governments ought to defend – and companies ought to respect – The appropriate for current and future generations to get pleasure from a wholesome and protected setting, important to the success of the suitable to life (and future household life).

Instances presently pending earlier than the Grand Chamber of the European Courtroom of Human Rights (ECTHR) contain the Greenpeace-backed Swiss ‘Clima Senorinen’ (Senior Girls for Local weather Conservation), whose superior age means, if states fail to behave, So they might be vulnerable to untimely loss of life, and their descendants left to pay the payments for local weather disasters. In the meantime, on the different finish of the generational scale, six younger Portuguese candidates are taking 33 international locations to the ECTHR, failing to guard susceptible youth already dealing with bodily and psychological impacts, together with environmental-concerns. , and consists of the price of local weather breakdown, for which they haven’t any accountability. ECTHR can even hear the primary problem for brand spanking new oil exploration with six younger Norwegian candidates introduced in by Greenpeace Nordic, Nature and Youth.

From younger to outdated, these and different local weather issues can be emphasised by the UNGA decision: it empowers climate-sensitive and encourages judges to take a agency stand on the human proper to wash, wholesome. extra sturdy setting, and ordering governments to carry pollution accountable and assure larger environmental requirements for current and future generations. The decision gives a precedent, which can quickly be additional strengthened because it strikes to the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice. It underscores a wave of environmental litigation all over the world that can ultimately assist to dismantle the fort of fossil gasoline fraud and pay for the polluters who’ve harmed this earth and its individuals for thus lengthy.

Activists in Fiji show support for the Vanuatu government's move to seek advisory opinion at the International Court of Justice © The Roving Rovas / Greenpeace
A Matavai Pacific cultural arts activist holds an indication in Suva, Fiji, asking Pacific governments to “vote sure for local weather justice” because the Vanuatu authorities and civil society organizations search an advisory opinion on the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice. © Roving Rovas / Greenpeace

in profile:

A number of the instances all over the world that will profit from or intersect with the UNGA decision:


– Greenpeace Africa and Pure Justice vs Shell on the Wild Coast of South Africa
– Trials proceed in opposition to Shell’s horrific file in Ogoniland, Nigeria
The STOPEACOP problem to the East African Crude Oil Pipeline (EACOP), a menace to the biodiversity, communities and environmental integrity of Uganda and Tanzania

Of America

Greenpeace Argentina and others problem offshore oil exploration within the Argentine Sea
– Escazu Settlement in Latin America and the Caribbean to guard environmental rights defenders
– CARICOM assist for advisory opinion from the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice
– USA: Main fossil gasoline business gamers misled the general public for its devastating influence on local weather change in a number of instances filed by cities and states throughout the US, whereas many federal courts and the Supreme Courtroom stay hostile to local weather instances .

Asia Pacific

– Implementation of the Philippines Human Rights Fee report, which heard in Could 2022 that carbon main corporations are legally and morally accountable for his or her function in local weather change
– Calling for the “world’s largest problem to be taken to the world’s highest court docket” by the Vanuatu and Pacific Islands Discussion board, asking the Worldwide Courtroom of Justice to set authorized obligations on states to guard their individuals from the antagonistic results of local weather change .


L'Affaire du Siècle ('Case of the Century') sued by the French state © Emerick Föhlen / L'Affaire du Sicle
L’Affaire du Siècle (‘Case of the Century’) activists collect in entrance of the Paris Administrative Courtroom to assist authorized motion introduced by Greenpeace, Oxfam, Notre Affaire Tous and the Fondation Pour la Nature et l’Properties. Sue the French state for local weather inaction. © Emerick Fohlen / L’affaire du sicle

– Portuguese youth vs 33 European states
– The Urgenda local weather case within the Netherlands, wherein the Dutch Supreme Courtroom discovered that the federal government ought to cut back emissions according to human rights obligations
– Climaseniorinen in Switzerland is bringing a lawsuit in opposition to the Swiss authorities
– Folks v Arctic Oil in Norway is bringing Arctic oil drilling to ECTHR (petition in Norwegian)
– Neubauer case: younger individuals in Germany are difficult the federal government’s local weather targets
– L’Affaire du Sicle in France
Shell ordered to cut back emissions within the Netherlands by 45%
– Polish vitality large PGE GiEK ordered to determine Whether or not to formulate a decarbonization technique
– Attraction by Greenpeace Belgium and others in opposition to state approval of petrochemicals large Ineos’ plastics plant challenge within the Port of Antwerp
– Challenges the UK authorities on the approval of Shell’s new Jackdaw oil area exploration

'Climate justice' is displayed in lights at the White House in Washington DC, USA © Vicki DaSilva / Greenpeace
The phrases ‘local weather justice’ are displayed underneath lights on the White Home in Washington DC, USA. © Vicki DaSilva / Greenpeace

*Belarus, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, Iran, Kyrgyzstan, the Russian Federation and Syria have averted the argument that the suitable might be thought of legally enforceable solely via worldwide treaties.

Maria Alejandra Serra Barney is Local weather Justice and Legal responsibility Advisor at Greenpeace Worldwide; Richard Harvey is authorized counsel, campaigns and capabilities at Greenpeace Worldwide Authorized Unit

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