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 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.

Thousands of children, young people and allies mobilized to secure this recognition, and this award is a tribute to their voices.

The UN Human Rights Prize is awarded once every five years to several recipients at a time. This year is the first time that 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 fulfillment of human rights. Alone, no organization, movement, or person would have been able to achieve 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: It is essential to respect and strengthen spaces for participation and collaboration. The protection of civic spaces and the respect and support for all human rights defenders is essential for 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 ahead of 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 is 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.

Read reactions from members of the CERI coalition:

“The adoption of the UN General Assembly resolution recognizing the human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment was a breakthrough achievement at the global level offering hope to children everywhere that their governments will step up to deliver action to address the environmental and climate crisis that threatens their health, education, wellbeing and even survival. With more than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 attributable to unhealthy environments, the resolution offers significant potential to boost implementation of child rights obligations.

This prize is a tremendous honor for all those involved in the Global Coalition for the Recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment, but equally an important recognition of the vital role civil society, Indigenous Peoples, and grassroots social movements play in delivering change, particularly when we work together. We will leverage this recognition as we continue working with partners and elevate the voices and demands of children to enact policies to make this right a reality.”
Inger Ashing, CEO, Save the Children International

“The UN Human Rights Award not only recognizes the extraordinary commitment and hard work of civil society, young people, and Indigenous Peoples’ organizations. The recognition by so many states of the right to a healthy, clean, and sustainable environment underlines how fundamental it is to preserve our planet and all life for our children and grandchildren, future generations, and all living beings on Earth. And we will now work to ensure that States  live up to their commitments and implement sustainable and forward-looking policies.” Samia Kassid, Senior Programme Manager “The Rights of Children and Youth”, World Future Council

“At a time when civic spaces are shrinking and under attack, this is a tremendous achievement for civil society which recognises its crucial role in protecting people and the planet. This is also a message of hope and determination to children, demonstrating the power of civil society, Indigenous Peoples, local communities and social movements coming together, and encouraging children to continue to make their voices heard to protect their rights, the planet and all of our futures. This award is a call to States to make the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment a reality for children today and for future generations to come.” Isabelle Kolebinov, Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

Read quotes from other members of the Global Coalition for Recognition of the Right to a Healthy Environment here.

Previous Post
Press Release: Funds for world’s climate hotspots woefully neglect the needs of children, new report finds
Next Post
UN Committee on Rights of the Child publishes General Comment No. 26!
Other posts