In March 2022 was held the UNEP@50 Summit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
On this occasion, States met in Nairobi to adopt a political declaration as mandated by UN General Assembly resolution 73/333.
The Global Pact Coalition, as a UNEP-accredited organization, has been working with diplomats to influence the content of this declaration. Our blog “Pathway to the 2022 Declaration” provided jurists a platform to talk to diplomats about what this declaration should include.
Unfortunately, the content of the Declaration falls far short of its ambitions. The right to a healthy environment is only mentioned in the preamble (3rd paragraph) and only indirectly in reference to the prior resolution adopted in Geneva. There is no official recognition of this right as a human right.
Likewise, procedural rights (information, participation, environmental justice) are mentioned in paragraph 14 but without the appearance of the word “rights”. This is because the United States and Russia expressly opposed this mention and allied against environmental rights!
The recognition of environmental rights and duties has in reality clashed with the functioning of UNEP, where decisions are taken by consensus and not by vote. The next step, however, is encouraging. The United Nations General Assembly has been called upon to negotiate a resolution recognizing the right to a healthy environment. There, decisions are made by majority vote and recognition of this right is becoming much more likely.