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Access to clean air is a human right
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Access to clean air is a human right

Access to a clean environment a human right

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The United Nations has declared that a healthy and clean environment is a human right.
Gavin Hellier/Stocksy
  • Toxic air, chemical exposure, or other environmental hazards can all lead to 13.7 million deathsWorldwide, 24% of deaths occur each year.
  • The United Nations Human Rights Council declared having a clean, healthy and sustainable environment a human right.
  • The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights urged member states to take immediate action to implement this decision.

The UN Human Rights Council made a historic move. Officially recognizedAccess to a healthy and safe environment is a fundamental human rights.

Resolution 48/13 was drafted by the Ambassadors of Costa Rica, Morocco, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Morocco. It received 43 votes. Russia, China and India abstained.

Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, insists:

Bold action is required now to ensure that the resolution on the right of a healthy environment serves to launch transformative economic, socio-environmental policies that will protect both people and nature.

Medical News TodayWe spoke about this resolution together Dr. Anita Chandra, Dr.P.H.RAND Social and Economic Well-Being vice president and director, and a senior policy researcher at the RAND Corporation.

Dr. Chandra stated during the interview that the resolution was in line with the direction the world is heading, including the United States. [U.N.s] Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

MNTDr. Chandra was asked how the corporate sector is working towards a healthier world. She said:

I believe there have been some positive attempts at private sector engagement, public-private partnerships. []Many companies are realizing that they need to find sustainable solutions. ESG goals []These are environmental, governance, and social goals. ESG goals tends increase environmental protections as well as sustainability. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it is perfect but there is at the very least a step towards that.

Profitable sustainability

Dr. Chandra mentioned that RAND worked with Costa Rica in their National Decarbonization Plan. She stated that RANDs methods were not just good for the environment, but also had a net positive result in terms of profits.

She believes that the challenge for industries lies in aligning their ESG goals with UN’s SDGs as well as Resolution 48/13. The senior researcher believes that frameworks are beginning connect these ideals.

Holding businesses accountable

MNTThis UN resolution was also discussed with Mustafa Ali, Ph.D., J.D.Former Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), former official, and founder of Revitalization Strategies, an environmental consultancy.

Dr. Ali responded to a question about how businesses can implement more equitable and sustainable practices.

I think []It starts with governments deciding that these actions are valuable and creating incentives for people who want to move in the right direction.

Dr. Ali also stated that shareholders and individuals can and should use their money to hold corporations accountable.

He urged governments to take a stronger stand on these issues. [companies]They refuse to evolve.

This new resolution shows that the triple threats to the planet of climate change, pollution and loss of nature are more severe for the most vulnerable populations.

Dr. Ali suggested this:

It’s because of policies from the past and up to now. We know. [about]These policies have included racism, discrimination, and bias. That is the history of the United States of creating disproportionate outcomes, disinvestments in communities that make them vulnerable.

Dr. Ali spoke about the 48217 zip codeDetroit, MI is home to a high number of cases of asthma, cognitive impairments and cancer caused by air pollution.

He also mentioned Louisiana. Cancer AlleyWest Virginia Canaan ValleyAmong minoritizedLow income areas are most affected by inequitable environmental threats.

Ms. Bachelet reported that in 2020, an excessive number was killed for their work as environmental human rights defenders. She pleaded for UN member countries to take firm measures to protect and empower these advocates.

Dr. Ali pointed out that Indigenous people, Black and Brown, have been protecting our forests, jungles and wetlands, and they often stand in the way big corporations who want to take over that land.

Dr. Chandra has observed conflict between individuals and communities as they navigate competing interests. She explained that when people advocate for changes, it can lead to stress and tension.

Dr. Ali is grateful for the call to action. He added: If you want to care about climate change, you must care about those who are on the frontlines. []The United States is against environmental racism, environmental injustice, or they are standing on the frontlines in jungles and forests all over the planet.

The UN High Commission hailed the resolution to acknowledge environmental degradation and climate changes as interconnected human right crises.

Ms. Bachelet also spoke highly of the earth-saving efforts made by youth groups, Indigenous organizations, human rights institutions, among other establishments.

Dr. Ali stressed the UN’s resolution holds its member states accountable for pushing and holding governments responsible.

Dr. Chandra believes that climate is an important factor in our health. Climate is also a part of that.

She sees lots of potential progress in the fact that many local and region governments are applying SDG concepts to meet the challenge of UN Resolution48/13.

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