How to Help the Planet and Ensure Human Rights
The right to clean air is a universal human right. While it is not legally binding, it is universally applicable and empowers individuals, NGOs, and civil society groups to take action. Furthermore, it can strengthen existing legislation and encourage decision-makers to ensure that their communities are free from toxic air pollution.
Links between human rights and sustainable development
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (SDGs) explicitly recognizes that human rights are essential to achieving sustainable development. The Agenda includes 17 goals that aim to advance human rights. Many of these goals correspond to individual human rights obligations. As a result, human rights and the 2030 Agenda are intrinsically linked. The 2030 Agenda is firmly anchored in the principles and international human rights treaties. In this article, we explore the links between human rights and sustainable development and how they can be used to advance these goals.
The human rights approach to sustainable development has roots in the environmental justice movement. This movement grew out of research showing that environmental injustice disproportionately impacts poor and ethnic minority communities. The goal of this movement is to ensure that no group bears disproportionate responsibility for environmental impacts. In addition to the IPCC report, the human rights community has developed an approach to sustainable development that puts human rights at the forefront of development.
The UN Human Rights Council, for example, has repeatedly emphasized the links between human rights and sustainable development. Human rights are fundamental to human well-being, and environmental protection is essential for enjoyment of human rights. Sustainable development and environmental protection must be compatible with human rights to promote human well-being and prevent discrimination.
In order to achieve the 2030 Agenda, states must eliminate discrimination and empower vulnerable groups. The 2030 Agenda acknowledges that discrimination is one of the major obstacles to reaching those far behind. It also recognises that “vulnerable people” – children, youth, the disabled, indigenous peoples, and people living in complex humanitarian crises – must be empowered. It also envisions a world in which women and girls are fully empowered and their rights are respected.
Despite the challenges associated with SDG implementation, human rights advocates have achieved a lot during the process. The SDGs’ Declaration explicitly references human rights, and many SDG targets are implicitly reflective of human rights language. Human rights advocates must now ensure that this language guides the implementation of the SDGs and that the SDGs promise is translated into reality. It is also important to hold governments accountable for their promises.
Key elements of the HRHE
The HRHE commits to ensuring human well-being in an ecological context. It seeks to facilitate the trade-off between economic development, social development, and environmental protection. It promotes context-based assessments for policy makers. Human well-being is the overriding priority. This principle is especially important in a rapidly-developing country where environmental protection may be difficult to achieve.
In Kenya, the HRHE was incorporated into the constitution in 2010. This is a significant change from the 1963 independence constitution, which had no mention of human rights. The HRHE has been formulated in a way that is very broad, and includes obligations to protect environmental elements. These include the obligation to maintain at least 10% tree cover and the protection of biological diversity.
Another element of the HRHE is the administration of benefits. This includes a variety of duties, such as tracking vacation time, processing paperwork for leave requests, and collecting information on benefits available to employees. The HRHE also protects human health and welfare and aims to prevent pollution and protect the environment.
Impact of climate change on human rights
In addition to threatening the ecosystems that sustain life on our planet, climate change also threatens human rights. It undermines the efforts of countries to promote human flourishing and welfare. Furthermore, the impacts of climate change are particularly pronounced for low-income groups. Hence, it is crucial to address the issue of climate change in order to ensure the rights of these groups.
In recent years, climate justice has been gaining momentum in many countries. According to the United Nations Environment Program, in March 2017, there were 654 climate litigation cases in the United States alone, and 230 in other countries. This movement uses the legal system to hold governments and corporations accountable for their climate policies.
This approach may not be the most appropriate for all climate change cases. In general, human rights cases are based on a wider set of criteria. Unlike other kinds of lawsuits, human rights cases are not limited to specific infringements, and the courts are a crucial venue for citizens to object to government decisions. In addition, human rights-based litigation is also important in situations where the existing legal framework is inadequate.
Although climate change is not legally bound to the universal human rights treaties, it is increasingly acknowledged that climate change impacts human rights. The growing awareness of the connection between human rights and a safe environment means that an international movement is incorporating climate change issues in international pledges and policy statements. Furthermore, the UN Guiding Principles place a responsibility on corporations to protect human rights. This suggests that companies are contributing to the violations of human rights by contributing to global warming.
The impacts of climate change are particularly acute in poor countries. Increasingly frequent and intense fires, floods, and heat waves have increased local risks and killed many people. In Australia, for example, over 100 fires broke out in the first two months of this year alone. As a result, over 400 people died.
Human rights bodies in the UN are increasingly recognizing that the negative impact of climate change on human rights is already a concern. As such, they have appoint a Special Rapporteur on the impact of climate change on human rights. Furthermore, they are pushing governments and multinational enterprises to take action to reduce carbon emissions.
Climate change has also created numerous new challenges for women and girls. For example, women and girls are often restricted to roles that rely heavily on natural resources. They also face barriers in accessing technical and financial resources, and are less able to adapt to climate change. Additionally, their lives will be at greater risk from climate-related events and will take much longer to recover.
Climate change also affects fundamental human rights, including the right to life. It is a serious issue, affecting the right to food, health, and sanitation, as well as the right to self-determination. States are obligated to prevent adverse impacts of climate change, and to provide remedies to victims and vulnerable populations.