Human rights protect our most basic needs, and human rights principles, especially non-discrimination, insist that we are not treated differently in accessing those needs. Since those needs have a natural basis, no-one can take more over a sustainable share of natural resources without threatening others’ rights; and since these resources are linked through ecological processes globally, all natural resources should be seen as part of the commons. If one person or group takes more than their fair share of these common goods, human rights globally are threatened. Human rights therefore demand that we protect these common resources.
Simply put, existing human rights obligations demand immediate action to address the ecological crisis while developing all human rights, whether we have specific international climate change or other environmental treaties or not.
Combining human rights-based and ecological approaches provides a powerful framework of analysis and basis for action to understand and guide development. HRBAs draw attention to the common root causes of social and ecological injustice. Human rights standards and principles then guide development to more sustainable outcomes by recognizing the links between ecological and social marginalization, stressing that all rights are embedded in complex ecological systems, and emphasizing provision for need over wealth accumulation. Together, human rights and ecology give a clearer idea of what development is to achieve – securing all human rights for the current generation within a sustainable amount of ecological space that does not compromise the human rights of future generations.
Based on this definition, practitioners should consider that all development activities must aim at securing human rights within a sustainable amount of ecological space. The ecological dimensions of rights should be emphasized to ensure each one is secured sustainably.
During this time of increasing awareness of the need to address climate change and environmental degradation, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights wants to bring to your attention a Practitioners Guide on the Human Rights-Based Approach related to the Environment and Climate Change. Practitioners Guides provide an examination of how to implement the human rights based approach to development (HRBA) in practical ways and provide critical examination of several case studies that provide lessons learned on how best to implement the HRBA. The intrinsic connections between human rights and ecology are increasingly appreciated and outlined in this guide, providing practitioners with a broad overview of the links between substantive and procedural human rights, development and ecology, including the particular cases of women’s, indigenous peoples’ and children’s rights.
This Practitioners Guide relates to the environment and climate change with a focus on how human rights contribute to a sustainable ecology where all have access to resources now and into the future.
The Practitioners Guide on Human Rights Based Approach related to the Environment and Climate Change can be found HERE.