UNEP adopted a High-Level Political Declaration

The third and final session consultative meeting taking place on 27 February 2022 resulted in the adoption of a High-Level Political Declaration on 8 March 2022, in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of UNEP and the 1972 Stockholm Declaration.

The United States and Russia were particularly vocal in their opposition to a right to a healthy environment. Unfortunately, in the face of this opposition, the content of the Declaration falls far short of its ambitions. Environmental rights are hardly mentioned at all, as consensus was reached by lowering the ambition of the declaration. 

In particular, the article recognizing the right to a healthy environment was downgraded. The final text no longer refers to a right to a healthy environment, it only mentions the right in its preamble: “Recognizing that a clean, healthy and sustainable environment is important for the enjoyment of human rights, taking note of Human Rights Council resolution 48/13 entitled “The human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.””

The procedural rights of information, participation and access to justice are mentioned in paragraph 14 of the Declaration. These rights are also recognized by the 1998 Aarhus Convention and the 2018 Escazu Agreement. 

Unfortunately, the timidity of the States is incomprehensible and does not meet the challenges of the ecological crisis.