International Mother Earth Day – Right to Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment is a Human Right
On 22 April International Mother Earth Day is marked globally to commemorate the inception of the contemporary environmental protection movement in the 1970s as well as the 1992 adoption at the UN’s Rio Conference on Environment and Development of the Program for the Promotion of Sustainable Development (Agenda 21).
This year the event is organized around the theme “Investing into our Planet”, with the aim of motivating individuals, businesses and governments around the world to invest into technologies and practices geared towards resolving the multiplying environmental issues the world is facing.
The main focus has been placed on devising efficient responses to the issues caused by pollution, destruction of natural habitats, biodiversity degradation as well as climate crisis. Such responses should be based on the development and implementation of efficient public policies necessary for an economic transformation and the development of the “green” economies. The existing policy models have, unfortunately, proven insufficiently successful in providing responses to all of the current challenges and many institutions tasked with their implementation lack the necessary capacities. Additionally, as UN’s Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment Mr. David Boyd notes in his report “The Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment: Non-toxic Environment”, current approaches to managing the risks posed by pollution are not systematic enough.
The right to a healthy life, i.e. the right to a healthy environment, is well established in Croatian Constitution. At the international level, October 2021 marked an important step – the adoption by the UN’s Human Rights Council of a resolution recognizing the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right. The resolution calls on the states to cooperate in its implementation as well as to further elaborate the constitutional right to a healthy life and a healthy environment in their laws and other legislation. The latter was also one of the recommendations in the field of environmental protection in our 2021 Annual Report to the Croatian Parliament. Others include the adoption of a regulation on measuring and monitoring of the level of environmental light exposure, enhancing the monitoring and ensuring the necessary capacities for the monitoring of the speleological sites and providing additional training in environmental law for judges.
The right to a healthy life and a healthy environment is one of the important areas of our institution’s work. In 2021 we opened 134 new cases related to environmental protection and environmental impacts on the citizens’ health, or, more specifically, to air, water and soil and sea pollution, unsustainable waste management, failures to provide sufficient protection from noise and light pollution, devastation of the protected natural habitats, non-ionizing radiation from mobile base stations and events caused by climate change.
In 2021 we submitted to the Croatian Parliament our Special Report: The Right to A Healthy Life and Climate Change in the Republic of Croatia (2013-2020). English translation of the report is available here.
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