The United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution, on Thursday 28 July 2022, declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right. This declaration will change the very nature of the international human rights law.
The text recognizes that the impact of climate change, the unsustainable management and use of natural resources, the pollution of air, land and water, the unsound management of chemicals and waste, and the resulting loss in biodiversity interfere with the enjoyment of this right, and that environmental damage has negative direct and indirect implications for the effective enjoyment of all human rights.
This resolution will be crucial to tackling the triple planetary crisis. This refers to the three main interlinked environmental threats that humanity currently faces: climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss; all mentioned in the text of the resolution.
Each of these issues has its own causes and effects and must be resolved if we are to have a viable future on Earth.
The consequences of climate change are becoming increasingly evident, through the increased intensity and severity of droughts, water shortages, wildfires, rising sea levels, flooding, melting polar ice, catastrophic storms and declining biodiversity.
On the other hand, according to the World Health Organization, air pollution is the major cause of illness and premature death worldwide, accounting for more than seven million premature deaths per year due to pollution.
Finally, the decline or disappearance of biodiversity –which includes animals, plants and ecosystems- has an impact on food supply, access to clean water and life as we know it.