In 2020, Earth Day saw its 50th anniversary. 

The BirdLife Partnership seized the opportunity to launch a bold new campaign to add a new article to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights:  the right to a healthy environment.

We all need a healthy environment

The BirdLife Partnership is campaigning is “to make a healthy natural environment a human right.”

In an open letter to the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres, BirdLilfe called on the UN to take a bold, unprecedented step:  “to declare a healthy natural environment a fundamental human right”, adding an Article 31.

The environment got left out

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has 30 articles, covering subjects such as slavery, torture and education – but there is nothing about preserving the environment. All life on earth depends on a healthy environment.  

COVID-19, says CEO Patricia Zurita from Birdlife International, gives us a chance – indeed an obligation – to transform society.

We have upset Earth’s natural balance

She says (and I quote) “Our planet’s health is our health. We humans rely on nature for our survival and sanity, but our actions have upset Earth’s natural balance.”

COVID-19 has its roots in habitat loss and the illegal wildlife trade.   People around the world need to be bold, to be decisive and to work together fast.

We need to turn that balance around

BirdLife International’s Director of Science and Policy, Melanie Heath, is that the seriousness of the pandemic is strong enough to wake everyone up and bring us all together to restore nature and protect us from similar crisis in future.

Look after the earth, and she will look after us.  We are not looking after earth, so what can we expect?  It’s time for us to redress the balance and put nature in her rightful place again,  so that she can look after us. We need to have a right to a healthy natural environment.

The letter calls for Article 31’s right to a healthy natural environment to be included on the Agenda of the UN General Assembly’s Summit on Biodiversity in September 2020, with the ultimate goal of its approval in December 2023.

If we all want to truly protect our welfare and health and wellbeing, we need to start by protecting nature and with it our right to a healthy environment.

Find out more from Birdlife International here.

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