07 Oct 2022

New Council of Europe recommendation on human rights and protection of the environment

ENNHRI welcomes the recent Council of Europe recommendation on human rights and the protection of the environment. This calls on member States to actively consider recognising the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. At the same time, it recognises the vital role of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) have to play in helping realise this right.

Adopted at the end of September, the recommendation acknowledges the disproportionate effect climate change has on the human rights of the most vulnerable, while recalling the importance for member states to respect the principles of international environmental law. The Council of Europe also emphasises the need to consult and cooperate with NHRIs in applying the recommendation.

This acknowledgement follows extensive ENNHRI involvement with the Council of Europe Drafting Group on Human Rights and Environment (CDDH-ENV), where the network was represented by the Norwegian and the French NHRIs.

As a previous ENNHRI statement outlines, NHRIs strongly support the creation of a binding instrument on the right to a healthy environment. This would obligate States to address the human rights impacts of climate change, loss of biodiversity, and environmental degradation.

While the recommendation represents an important achievement, ENNHRI reiterates the need to go a step further and ensure the right to a healthy environment becomes legally binding. ENNHRI will continue advocating and engaging on this topic, including at the upcoming CDDH-ENV meeting in February 2023.

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