Right to a healthy environment

Dear Editor,

The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) was extremely concerned about a recent objection which was made by the Government of Jamaica regarding the resolution by the Human Rights Council recognising the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

In October 2021, after many years of advocacy by civil society organisations, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a landmark resolution recognising the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Following this HRC decision, Costa Rica, Morocco, Maldives, Switzerland, and Slovenia presented a draft resolution recognising the right to a healthy environment before the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in June 2022. The UNGA voted on the resolution on July 28, 2022 — 161 in favour, zero against.

The reason for repeating the process at the General Assembly is that every UN member state has a vote, whereas at the Human Rights Council's voting rights reside in the 47 states elected to serve on that body.

The right to a healthy environment recognises and applies existing human rights obligations in an environmental context. Substantively, the right to a healthy environment includes:

• clean air;

• a safe climate;

• access to safe water and adequate sanitation;

• healthy and sustainably produced food;

• non-toxic environments in which to live, work, study and play; and

• healthy biodiversity and ecosystems.

The right to a healthy environment also encapsulates access to information, public participation, and access to justice, and effective remedies

The right to a healthy environment has been in Jamaica's Charter of Rights and Freedoms since 2011, so it is not clear why the Government of Jamaica would at any time be objecting to this resolution.

Dr Theresa Rodriguez-Moodie

Chief executive officer

Jamaica Environment Trust


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