Mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environmentCall for InputsHealthy Ecosystems and Human Rights: Sustaining the Foundations of Life“Goals for conserving and sustainably using nature and achieving sustainability cannot be met by current trajectories, and goals for 2030 and beyond may only be achieved through transformative changes across economic, social, political and technological factors.”Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. 2019. “Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services.”There is now global agreement that human rights norms apply to a broad spectrum of environmental issues, including biological diversity (the full range of life on Earth) and healthy ecosystems (the foundation upon which all life depends). The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Dr. David Boyd, is working to provide additional clarity regarding the substantive rights and obligations that are essential to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. He has submitted reports on clean air, a safe climate, and good practices on the promotion and implementation of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. He is now preparing a thematic report focusing on human rights and associated obligations related to healthy biodiversity and ecosystems. For that purpose, he is seeking inputs on the topic from States and stakeholders through responses to the brief questionnaire below.Your replies will inform the Special Rapporteur’s analysis and contribute to his report, which will be presented to the General Assembly in October 2020.QuestionnaireThe Special Rapporteur invites and welcomes your answers to the following questions:1. Please provide examples of ways in which declining biodiversity and degraded ecosystems are already having adverse impacts on human rights. Adversely affected rights could include, among others, the rights to life, health, water, food, culture, non-discrimination, a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and Indigenous rights.2. To protect a wide range of human rights, what are the specific obligations of States and responsibilities of businesses in terms of addressing the main direct drivers of harm to biodiversity and ecosystems (e.g. land conversion, loss and degradation of habitat, climate change, overexploitation, pollution, invasive species) and the indirect drivers (unsustainable production and consumption, rapid human population growth, trade, conflict and inequality)?3. Please provide specific examples of constitutional provisions, legislation, regulations, policies, programs or other measures that employ a rights-based approach to prevent, reduce, or eliminate harm to biodiversity and ecosystems or to restore and rehabilitate biodiversity and ecosystems.4. If your State is one of the 156 UN Member States that recognizes the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, has this right contributed to protecting, conserving and restoring biodiversity and healthy ecosystems? If so, how? If not, why not?5. Please provide specific examples of good practices in preventing, reducing, or eliminating harm to biodiversity and ecosystems, or restoring and rehabilitating biodiversity and ecosystems. These examples may occur at the international, national, sub-national, or local level. Where possible, please provide evidence related to the implementation, enforcement, and effectiveness of the good practices (e.g. measurable outcomes such as increases in terrestrial and marine protected areas, increases in Indigenous and Community Conserved Areas, declining rates of deforestation and poaching, or progress in the recovery of species that were previously threatened or endangered).6. Please identify specific gaps, challenges and barriers that your government, business, or organization has faced in attempting to employ a rights-based approach to preventing, reducing, or eliminating harm to biodiversity and ecosystems.7. Please specify ways in which additional protection is provided (or should be provided) for populations who may be particularly vulnerable to declining biodiversity and degraded ecosystems (e.g. women, children, persons living in poverty, members of Indigenous peoples and local communities, older persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic, racial or other minorities and displaced persons). How can these populations be empowered to protect and restore declining biodiversity and degraded ecosystems?8. How do you safeguard the rights of individuals and communities working on biodiversity issues (potentially identified as environmental human rights defenders or land defenders)? What efforts has your Government made to create a safe environment for them to freely exercise their rights without fear of violence, intimidation, or reprisal?9. There is substantial evidence that consumption in high-income States is adversely affecting biodiversity and ecosystems in low and middle-income States. What are ways in which high-income States should assist low-income States in responding to biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation, while simultaneously contributing to sustainable development in those low-income States?10. For businesses, what policies or practices are in place to ensure that your activities, products, and services across the entire supply chain (extraction/sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, sale, and end-of life management) minimize biodiversity loss and ecosystem degradation and meet human rights standards, especially those articulated in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights?Submission of responsesWe encourage you to please send your responses to the questionnaire in Word format by email to email@example.com.However, submissions will also be accepted via regular mail at the following address:UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environmentThematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development DivisionUNOG-OHCHRCH-1211 Geneva 10, SwitzerlandWe kindly request that your submission be concise and limited to a maximum of 5 pages (or 2,000 words), not including appendices or attachments.Due to a limited capacity for translation, we also request that your inputs be submitted in English, French, or Spanish.To avoid unnecessary duplication: if you have recently replied to other questionnaires from UN human rights mechanisms (or other international bodies) with information that would be relevant to this request as well, we welcome your directing us to those replies.The deadline for submission is 31 May 2020.Unless otherwise requested, all submissions will be made publicly available and posted on the Special Rapporteur’s homepage at the OHCHR website.
Thursday, April 09, 2020
Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment--Call for Inputs: Healthy Ecosystems and Human Rights: Sustaining the Foundations of Life
David Boyd, the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, has recently circulated a "Call for Inputs"--Healthy Ecosystems and Human Rights: Sustaining the Foundations of Life. Inputs are due 31 May 2020. The Call for Inputs follows below.
The Special Rapporteur seeks inputs in a number of related areas: on the relationship between declining biodiversity and adverse impacts on human rights, and on the legalization of those relationships in ways that prevent, mitigate to remedy both the decline of biodiversity and adverse impacts on human rights. More specific guidance is sought with respect to the particular burdens on vulnerable populations and human rights defenders. Those are indeed, important elements related to the legalization of standards relating to a "safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment."
For those interested, this exercise might provide an opportunity to align the Special Rapporteur's project within the context of pandemic. Are pandemics an expression (or the way that one can measure the adverse effects of) declines in bio-diversity or the adverse impact on human rights to health? Do states have an obligation to accurately and transparently monitor and report the incidence and character of disease? How does one make the connection between environment, societal conditions, and disease? To what extent ought this obligation to monitor and report give rise to a duty to obtain data even form the unwilling? Are the rights (of individuals) and the duties or responsibilities of institutions limited to the relationship between states and persons? What sort of legal-regulatory space ought there be for non-state organizations in the development, compliance with law, norms, or rules respecting sustainability, human rights, and disease? How is that to be reconciled with the principle of individual privacy and rights to informational autonomy? Do states have the obligation to mitigate degradation and decline of biodiversity that might contribute to the spread of disease? Do rights to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment have a constitutional dimension? Even in the absence of answers, the questions reveal the way in which approaches to human rights and sustainability both require reframing (e.g., OECD Watch statement urging OECD action during COVID-19 crisis (9 April 2020; statement may be accessed here; Want to Stop the Next Pandemic? Start Protecting Wildlife Habitats).