Make Access to Healthy Environment a Human Right

Target: Erik Solheim, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program

Goal: Support framework that would help defend environmentalists, not criminalize them.

John Knox, a rapporteur on human rights and the environment for the UN, is pushing to make the right to a healthy environment a human right. Environmentalists are targeted for defending the environment and vulnerable communities. Even more so in recent years, conservationists have been kidnapped, arrested, prosecuted, and outcasted for their work. Big business and those who have big stakes in natural resources such as land often target environmentalists who oppose their agenda. Last year, 197 environmentalists were murdered, according to Global Witness, a monitoring group.

However, the UN and other nations are showing support for the environment and its allies. The UN is currently scaling up training for judges, prosecutors, and police in environmental law. They also encourage them to work with companies who invest in human rights. Although environmental rights are still yet to be recognized in many nations, Knox is pushing for a UN resolution, which includes a policy framework to help support environmentalists and not criminalize them. His first policy is that states should ensure a safe, clean, and healthy environment that respects, protects, and fulfills human rights. His understanding of human and environmental rights allows him to see the connection between the two spheres.

Furthermore, he is pushing for support for vulnerable groups and acknowledgement of the role of business and governments in environmental and human rights.

Environmental rights are deeply intertwined with human rights. Often, those who cannot defend their own land and resources (water, food, air) suffer from exploitation. Knox’s ideas to implement a policy framework to support environmentalists and for the UN to recognize a healthy environment as a human right will help protect vulnerable communities and environmentalists. Sign the petition below to urge the UN to implement this framework.


Dear Mr. Solheim,

The UN Environment Program is committed to improving the quality of life and environment for people without compromising that of future generations. In order to ensure quality of life for future generations, we must recognize that a healthy environment is a human right. Many groups and communities are vulnerable to environmental exploitation, for example through land grabs, illegal development, and development that promotes pollution. John Knox, the rapporteur on human rights and the environment, is proposing that a policy framework be put into place to help protect environmentalists and to also recognize a healthy environment as a human right.

Although the UN is committed to making sure that judges, police, and prosecutors are receiving more training in environmental law, we must extend this consideration to environmentalists and conservationists. Often, they are criminalized, but they are the ones who champion human and environmental rights when authorities and other groups do not.

Environmental health is closely linked to human health. People living in terrible conditions, ingesting polluted waters, inhaling polluted air, and having no access to natural resources, have their human rights revoked. They can no longer live in with dignity when they have no access to a healthy, clean environment. I urge you to push the UN to consider environmental rights as human rights and promote the policy framework to support environmentalists.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Osakabe Yasuo

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  1. D. Farrimond says:

    Environment Trumps Corruption – YES !!!

  2. gen lovyet says:

    make earth healthy again.

  3. For human beings to survive our planet must be healthy too!

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