Council of Europe calls for recognising healthy environment as a human right


A quality environment plays an important role in ensuring a life of dignity and well-being, in which the fundamental right to freedom, equality and good living conditions are respected. The Council of Europe calls on its 46 member states “to actively consider recognising, at national level, the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, as a human right”.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has recently adopted a “Recommendation on human rights and the protection of the environment”.

Recalling the primary responsibility of the States for protecting the environment and human rights, the Council of Europe’s recommendation calls on national governments to ensure compliance with a number of general principles of international environmental law. Those principles include the no harm principle, the principle of prevention, the principle of precaution and the polluter pays principle; the need for intergenerational equity; the no discrimination principle; access without discrimination to information and justice in environmental matters.

Also highlighted is the importance of:

  • Protecting the rights of those who will suffer the most to environmental damage
  • Governments cooperating with sub-national entities, civil society, human rights defenders, economic actors, indigenous peoples, local communities, cities and regions
  • Requesting companies to act in accordance with their responsibilities regarding environmental human rights.

Read the Council of Europe’s recommendation

Earlier this year, the Council of Europe also published a “Manual on Human Rights and the Environment” clarifying the case law of the European Court of Human Rights and the decisions of the European Committee of Social Rights.

Link to the “Manual on Human Rights and the Environment

The issue of climate change was also one of the topics chosen by the United Nations for the celebrations of this year’s International Day of Older Persons. The event ‘Older Persons as Active Agents in a Changing Climate’ held in Geneva on 30 September called for meaningful opportunities to be created for older persons to participate in climate action at all levels.

You can watch the recording of the Geneva’s event

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