By Chuks Oyema-Aziken
The Niigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) has joined over 100 civil society organisations from around the world to call on the United Nations to add a new article to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – enshrining a universal right to a healthy natural environment.
A press release from NCF said if the article is added, the amendment would be the first addition to the declaration since it came to life in 1948.
NCF Head, Communications, Oladapo Soneye, who signed the press release said the call by the groups is tagged #1Planet1Right campaign.
He said it is dedicated to establishing this new human right, and is led by the world’s largest conservation partnership, BirdLife International.
“Joining them are Nigerian Conservation Foundation (NCF) and other civil society organisations such as ClientEarth and the Global Pact for Environment. Dr David R. Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment has also endorsed the campaign.
“#1Planet1Right sent a letter to António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, on Earth Day officially making the request for a new human right, and will now continue putting pressure on the UN by launching a global petition.
“According to WHO, 23% of global deaths are linked to the damage and destruction of our natural environment, while hundreds of millions of people suffer from illnesses related to unhealthy and unnatural environment. Climate change directly results in more frequent and intense storms, droughts, wildfires and rising sea levels, which in turn threaten the lives of billions of people.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has its roots in habitat loss and illegal wildlife trade. This new human right can help ensure that the global green recovery the world needs to rebuild society following the pandemic takes both the biodiversity and the climate emergencies into account.
“The #1Planet1Right campaign calls on the UN to: Vote to include the right to a healthy natural environment at the UN Human Rights Council, in the UN General Assembly and as an urgent topic at the UN Summit on Biodiversity in mid-September 2020, in order to ultimately include the right in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by 2023.
“Dr. David R. Boyd, United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment says: “The right to a healthy planet, as a universally recognized human right, would be a powerful addition to the toolkit for saving the planet. The right to a healthy environment already provides the foundation for much of the progress we are seeing in different nations around the globe. What we need to do now is seize this moment of global eco-crisis to secure United Nations recognition of this right so that everyone, everywhere benefits. The human right to a healthy planet, if recognized by all nations, could be the most important human right of the 21st century.”
“Patricia Zurita, CEO, BirdLife International says “Our planet’s health is our health. If our planet is sick, we become sick. And right now, our planet has never been more ill. The survival of humanity is already threatened by the climate and biodiversity crises, and this pandemic has pushed us one step closer to the brink. In order to transform, and save society, the starting point must be to ensure that every person has the same baseline – guaranteeing everyone the right to a healthy planet.”
“Dr. Muhtari Aminu-Kano says “Humans are completely dependent on healthy and vibrant ecosystems for their health, water, food, medicines, clothes, fuel, shelter, energy and many more. “Environment demand more attention from us now, government; corporate organisation and individual should arise and do something to protect it from absolute collapse. We all need a healthy planet.”
“#1Planet1Right is a global campaign demanding the right to a healthy, natural environment to be added to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The campaign is supported by civil society organisations from over 100 countries and counting and will be running until 2023, when it hopes that the right will be added to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to mark its 75th anniversary.
“Hundreds of millions of people suffer from illnesses related to unhealthy and unnatural environments. According to the World Health Organisation, “an estimated 12.6 million deaths each year are attributable to unhealthy environments”, such as air pollution, inadequate water sanitation, and the impacts of climate change.”