05 Mar 2024
16:00–17:00

Venue: Palais des Nations | Room XXV

Organization: Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council

This side event to the 55th session of the Human Rights Council will discuss the thematic report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment on "Businesses, planetary boundaries, and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment".

About this Session

The recognition of the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment through UN resolutions has been a historical breakthrough for the people and the planet. In addition, five decades of environmental laws and policies regulating businesses have achieved some important successes, such as the protection of the stratospheric ozone layer from harmful chemicals, advances in protected areas, and the exponential growth of renewable energy.

However, the planetary crisis is getting worse and constitutes the biggest threat to human rights ever faced, because it threatens the rights of everyone alive as well as the rights of future generations. Environmental progress is overwhelmed by the inexorable growth in production, consumption and population.  Decades of unbridled business activity in pursuit of profit and growth have exacerbated inequality, left billions behind, and pushed civilization to the precipice of disaster.

Businesses have the responsibility to respect human rights, including the right to a healthy environment. However, businesses practices around the world have resulted in negative human rights impacts by polluting air, water and soil, causing and exacerbating the climate crisis, devastating biodiversity and ecosystems, producing and marketing unhealthy and unsustainable food, and releasing toxic substances.

Transformative changes to economic and business paradigms are urgently needed to reduce humanity’s collective impact on nature and the associated human rights impacts. In this regard, States and businesses have a critical role to play in supporting society’s quest for a just and sustainable future.

The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment dedicated his thematic report to the 55th session of the Human Rights Council to the topic of Businesses, planetary boundaries, and the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.  In this report, he evaluates the inadequacies of voluntary normative frameworks for ensuring that businesses respect human rights and clarifies State obligations to protect the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment from harms caused by businesses. The Special Rapporteur concludes that systemic and transformative changes are needed to achieve a just and sustainable future and provides extensive recommendations for States.

This side event that will discuss the thematic report of the Special Rapporteur, including in the context of the implementation of right to a healthy environment as recognized by Human Rights Council Resolution 48/13 and General Assembly resolution 76/300, and to address issues including the following:

  • The impact of businesses on the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment;
  • States obligations to protect the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment from harms caused by businesses and good practices, gaps and challenges relating to these obligations;
  • Business responsibilities to respect the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and good practices, gaps and challenges relating to the normative frameworks in place;
  • The role of key actors including governments, businesses, the United Nations, civil society,  Indigenous Peoples, local communities and youth;

The recommendations provided in the report both at the national and international levels and ways forward.

Speakers

By order of intervention. Additional speakers to be confirmed.

H.E. Amb. Smiljana KNEZ

Ambassador-at-Large for Climate Change, Slovenia

David BOYD

UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and environment

Joie CHOWDHURY

Senior Attorney, Center for International Environmental Law

Diana RIZZOLIO

Coordinator, Geneva Environment Network

Participation

This event will take place only in person. Participants registered for the 55th session of the Human Rights Council can attend the event.

Environment @ HRC55

The 55th regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC55) is taking place in Geneva and online from 26 February to 5 April 2024. This regularly updated page highlights the environmental-related activities of this session.

Links