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Human Rights and the Rights of Nature

December 14, 2022

The General Assembly of the United Nations in July 2022 took the historic step of recognizing The Right to a Healthy Environment as a basic human right (with 161 in favor, none opposed, and 8 abstentions). This right had already been widely accepted in the legal systems of over 100 countries; its adoption by the UNGA was the result of many years of advocacy. The Rights of Nature has emerged over several decades as an international legal movement of far-reaching significance. These rights overlap and are related to each other in important ways. We must now support the urgent task of implementing these rights.

On Tuesday, December 13th the Parliament of the World’s Religions hosted the program “Human Rights and the Rights of Nature” at COP15: The UN Biodiversity Conference. The program explores the relationship between The Right to a Healthy Environment and The Rights of Nature and how they are mutually reinforcing, with reference to the rights of Indigenous Peoples, environmental ethics across traditions, and protection of biodiversity (noting that “a healthy environment” means not only healthy for humans but healthy in and for itself).

Featuring David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment; Lucy Mulenkei, Co-Chair of International Indigenous Forum on Biodiversity; Charles McNeill, Senior Advisor on Forests & Climate for the UN Environment Programme; Alexandra Goossens-Ishii, UN Representative, Soka Gakkai International; and Emily Echevarria, Director of Climate Action at the Parliament of the World’s Religions.