19 Nov 2021

ENNHRI calls on the Council of Europe to adopt a binding instrument on the right to a healthy environment

ENNHRI recently participated in the second meeting of the Drafting Group on Human Rights and the Environment (CDDH-ENV). It stressed that a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is essential to the realisation of all human rights. In line with this, ENNHRI made clear its support for the future adoption of a binding instrument recognising the right to a healthy environment at the Council of Europe level.

The second CDDH-ENV meeting reviewed and discussed the text of the Preliminary draft recommendation on human rights and the protection of the environment. While the current focus of CDDH-ENV is on elaborating a non-binding instrument, the need for further work on the topic was recognised. Support for a binding instrument was expressed by both ENNHRI and the Advisory Council on Youth. 

ENNHRI elaborated its position in a written statement that was presented at the meeting. ENNHRI highlights that, in contrast to the other regional human rights systems, the Council of Europe system has not yet recognised a right to a healthy environment. 

ENNHRI supports the idea of codification of the right to a healthy environment in an Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights in line with the suggestion made by PACE in Recommendation 2211 (2021). This will allow for: 

  • The right to a healthy environment to become enforceable by the European Court of Human Rights. 
  • States to become obliged to take concrete measures to address and combat the damage caused by the processes of climate change and environmental degradation. 

ENNHRI stands ready to intensify its work on the topic and to cooperate with all partners in the future. Over the past year, ENNHRI has published a position paper on Climate Change and Human Rights in the European Context and has submitted a third-party intervention to the European Court of Human Rights. 

» Read the full statement

» Learn more on ENNHRI’s work on human rights and climate change.