UN stands up for environmental rights

UN Environment is taking a stand against the threats, intimidation, harassment and murder of environmental defenders around the world. Around four environmental campaigners are killed every week.

UN Environment has launched the UN Environmental Rights Initiative in a move to promote, protect and respect environmental rights.

The aim is to help people better understand their rights and to assist governments to safeguard environmental rights.

UN Environment is also calling upon the private sector to champion the rights of everyone to a clean and healthy environment.

Environmental rights are enshrined in over 100 constitutions, and yet almost four environmental defenders are killed per week, with the true total likely far higher, explained UN Environment in a statement. Many more are harassed, intimidated and forced from their lands.

“Those who struggle to protect planet and people should be celebrated as heroes, but the sad fact is that many are paying a heavy price with their safety and sometimes their lives. It’s our duty to stand on the side of those who are on the right side of history,” commented Erik Solheim, Head of UN Environment.

The Environmental Rights Initiative will engage governments to develop and implement policy and legal frameworks that protect environmental rights.

It will also assist businesses to better understand what their environmental rights obligations are and provide guidance on how to advance beyond a compliance culture.

UN Environment urges “all governments to prioritize the protection of environmental defenders from harassment and attack and to bring those who harm or threaten defenders to justice swiftly and definitively”.

Photo credit: Rainforest Action Network/ CC BY-NC 2.0

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