Right to a Healthy Environment Global Coalition Wins UN Human Rights Prize
Today, the Global Coalition of Civil Society, Indigenous Peoples, Social Movements, and Local Communities for the Universal Recognition of the Human Right to a Clean, Healthy, and Sustainable Environment, which ESCR-Net is part of, is one of the recipients of the prestigious 2023 United Nations Human Rights Prize. The coalition is awarded for its essential role in advocating for the recognition of the right to a healthy environment by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in July 2022.
The UN Human Rights Prize is awarded once every five years to several recipients at a time. This year is the first time it has been granted to a global coalition. The prize will be presented in New York on December 10, which also marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, making this recognition even more special.
This achievement was only possible thanks to tireless efforts that began decades ago and resulted in thousands of people from all across the globe joining forces to achieve a milestone: the recognition by the United Nations of the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. First and foremost, the award highlights the importance of collaborating to advance the much-needed protection of our planet and the fulfillment of human rights. Alone, no organization, movement, or person would have achieved the universal recognition of the right to a healthy environment. Together, a diverse global coalition made this a reality.
Furthermore, the prize recognizes the need to protect participatory spaces for everyone. As civic spaces are worryingly shrinking and many human rights and environmental defenders are under attack worldwide, the award sends a strong reminder: Respecting and strengthening spaces for participation and collaboration is essential. The protection of civic spaces and the respect and support for all human rights defenders is critical to the effective implementation of this newly recognized right. The right also is an integral component of environmental justice and democracy and provides a seamless path to protecting the rights of future generations.
This announcement arrives just a few days before the July 28 anniversary of the UNGA’s recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. Since then, millions have continued to experience the cumulative and accelerating impacts of the triple planetary crisis of biodiversity loss, climate change, and pollution, exacerbated by systemic inequalities that are contributing to ongoing violations of the right to a healthy environment around the world. This prize emphasizes that today more than ever, States must make this right a reality. It is both a recognition and a call to action for governments, businesses, institutions, and people worldwide to ensure that the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is effectively guaranteed and legally protected so that it can be enjoyed by all.