UNHRC announces right to access to a clean environment, a basic human right

The UN in a historic moment declared the right to access to a clean environment as a basic human right on 8th October 2021. The resolution passed after a unanimous victory of 43 votes in favour, holds the access to a healthy and sustainable environment as a universal right.


It was a long struggle of many organizations, NGOs and indigenous people agitations, who have been protesting for global recognition of the human right to a clean, safe, healthy and sustainable environment.

Although the resolution is legally non-binding, it does hold strong political statements and aims to mobilise things on the administrative and policy levels. The first provision would be the right to clean drinking water, of which resolutions were passed in 2010. According to WHO a reported 785 million people are still deprived of clean drinking water, which makes up most of the countries of Africa, Asia and South America.

President Nazhat Shameem from Fiji further highlighted the indispensable link between human rights and the environment. Citing the lives of native and indigenous people living close to nature, and the symbiotic relationship of preservation, she pointed out that the declaration was befitting.

The next challenge to be tackled would be improving the quality of air. About 90% of people are breathing polluted air, in both developed and developing countries. Their ultimate goal is thus, applying the objectives of the Paris Agreement.