UN resolution: Clean environment a human right

With 161 votes in favor and eight abstentions, the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution, declaring access to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, a universal human right.

Access to a clean and healthy environment is now a human right. The UN General Assembly has passed a resolution that calls upon States, international organizations, and business enterprises to scale up efforts to ensure a healthy environment for all. The resolution, based on a similar text adopted in the year 2021, found an overwhelming majority of supporters in the General Assembly: 161 votes were in favour, eight abstentions, and no votes against.

The UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, welcomed the ‘historic’ decision: “This landmark development demonstrates that the Member States can come together in the collective fight against the triple planetary crisis of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution”, he said in a statement.

Urgent action needed

Both Guterres and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet stressed the need for urgent action. “Today is a historic moment, but simply affirming our right to a healthy environment is not enough. The General Assembly resolution is very clear: States must implement their international commitments and scale up their efforts to realize them. We will all suffer much worse effects from environmental crises if we do not work together to collectively avert them now,” she said in a statement.

ISWA president Carlos Silva Filho agrees: “It’s important to highlight that this resolution, approved when the world is facing a triple environmental crisis, is a major achievement to maximize efforts and draw attention to the importance of immediate action for environmental preservation. But let’s remember that this basic human right will be only achieved with sound waste management for all, starting with closing all dumpsites and stopping open burning, as ISWA has been defending for many years.”

Read more about the work of the ISWA Closing Dumpsites Task Force here.

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