Environment: a human right

05 May 2010 | News story

The European Biodiversity Day held at the Council of Europe on 28 April culminated with the signing of a declaration which recognizes that the environment is part of human rights.

The declaration Working together for biodiversity, protection of natural areas and the fight against climate change signed jointly by the Presidents of the Parliamentary Assembly, the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities and the Conference of INGOs aims to acknowledge that the right to a healthy environment is an integral part of human rights and to help take the necessary measures to ensure its translation into positive law.

The document is also a tool to work together to improve the state of biodiversity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions and develop synergies between the protection of biodiversity and climate, notably by promoting actions that protect woodlands, grasslands and wetlands and a resolved development of renewable energies.

The declaration was signed during the European Biodiversity Day organized by the Conference of INGOs of the Council of Europe, in partnership with the Parliamentary Assembly and the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. The event was also an opportunity to reflect on the progress made on biodiversity conservation in Europe and talk about the next steps.

A panel discussion on the interaction between biodiversity and climate change, chaired by former UK Minister for Environment Alan Meale, featured a statement by IUCN Regional Director Dr Hans Friederich.

The need for integration of climate change and biodiversity conservation was stressed by all. Awareness raising was seen as a critical component to reach agreement on the way ahead. The IUCN’s Countdown 2010 initiative was congratulated on its success during the past years.

The Deputy Mayor of Strasbourg provided some innovative examples on how biodiversity can be incorporated in town planning and management, including green procurement of organically grown local produce for schools and hospitals, management of green urban spaces including the promotion of local gardens and allotments, and an improved local transport network.

The Day also included messages from the Chair of the Committee of Ministers, Swiss Minister for Foreign Affairs Micheline Calmy-Rey, and CBD Executive Secretary Ahmed Djoghlaf, as well as statements from the Presidents of the three bodies of the Council of Europe. UNEP was represented by Olivier Deleuze, Director of the Brussels Office, and the keynote speech was provided by former Swiss Minister for Environment Philippe Roch.