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UN Human Rights Award

Coalition’s campaign for the right to a healthy environment wins prestigious human rights prize
Katie Hill - Editor-in-Chief, My Green Pod
UN Human Rights Award

A global civil society and Indigenous peoples’ coalition, which includes Amnesty International, has won the prestigious United Nations Human Rights Prize for successfully campaigning to have everyone’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment universally recognised by the United Nations.

The Global Coalition of Civil Society, Indigenous Peoples, Social Movements and Local Communities for the Universal Recognition of the Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment was selected for the UN Human Rights Award for its essential role in advocating for the recognition of the right to a healthy environment by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in July 2022.

An awards ceremony will take place in December at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, during the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The power of collaboration

The UN Human Rights Prize is awarded once every five years to several recipients at a time. This year is the first time that it has been granted to a global coalition.

This achievement was only possible thanks to tireless efforts that began decades ago and resulted in thousands of people from all across the globe joining forces to achieve a milestone: the recognition by the United Nations of the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.

First and foremost, the award highlights the importance of collaborating to advance the much-needed protection of our planet and fulfilment of human rights.

Alone, no organisation, movement or person would have been able to achieve the universal recognition of the right to a healthy environment. Together, a diverse global coalition made this a reality.

Protecting civic spaces

The prize also recognises the need to protect participatory spaces for everyone.

As civic spaces are worryingly shrinking and many human rights and environmental defenders are under attack worldwide, the award sends a strong reminder: it is essential to respect and strengthen spaces for participation and collaboration.

The protection of civic spaces and the respect and support for all human rights defenders is essential for the effective implementation of this newly recognised right.

The right also is an integral component of environmental justice and democracy and provides a seamless path to protecting the rights of future generations.

Making a right a reality

This announcement arrives just a few days ahead of the July 28 anniversary of the UNGA’s recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment.

Since then, millions have continued to experience the cumulative and accelerating impacts of the triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change and pollution, exacerbated by systemic inequalities, that is contributing to ongoing violations of the right to a healthy environment around the world.

This prize emphasises that today more than ever, States must make this right a reality.

It is both a recognition and a call to action for governments, businesses, institutions and people worldwide to ensure that the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is effectively guaranteed and legally protected so that it can be enjoyed by all.

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