Spring 2011: Right to a Clean Environment

Right to a Clean Environment

"As people alive today, we must consider future generations: a clean environment is a human right like any other. It is therefore part of our responsibility towards others to ensure that the world we pass on is as healthy, if not healthier, than we found it."  

~ The Dalai Lama

The right to a clean environment is a fundamental part of every person's right to live in a physical environment that does not threaten his or her health, livelihood, or well-being and makes it possible to live a productive life in dignity. The 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment formally recognized the interrelation of environment and human rights, affirming that "man's environment, the natural and the man-made, are essential to his well-being and to the enjoyment of basic human rights - even the right to life itself."

Today however, all over the world, people are suffering from the effects of ecosystem decline due to climate change and human activity. The impact of environmental degradation poses a direct threat to a wide range of universally recognized human rights, such as the right to life, food, adequate housing, and water. Because we share one environment, the protection and management of the environment is an issue for which all nations, communities, and people must share responsibility. In celebration of Earth Day 2011, this issue of Rights Sites News is dedicated to helping teachers engender in their students a commitment to respecting and improving the environment, and making this world a healthier, cleaner, and more sustainable place for all living beings.