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Right to a healthy environment: reducing inequalities, protecting the rights of climate migrants and promoting research and development policies


Adopting a resolution today in Strasbourg, based on a report by Edite Estrela (Portugal, SOC), the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) said that access to the fundamental right to a safe, clean and healthy environment was unequally shared between regions, countries and individuals, stressing that the effects of climate change impacted poor countries disproportionately, as well as disadvantaged groups, minorities, women and children.

The adopted text proposes a set of measures to combat inequalities in the right to a healthy environment resulting from economic differences between and within countries. “Any new legally binding instrument on the right to a safe, clean and healthy environment must address all of the sources of inequality, with the aim of minimising them,” the Assembly said.

In a second resolution, based on a report by Pierre-Alain Fridez (Switzerland, SOC), PACE stressed the importance of protecting human rights for people forced to migrate by climate change-induced disasters or hardship, with particular attention to vulnerable groups.

It called in particular for increased development co-operation and emergency support in the countries of origin of migrants, in order to address issues of food and water security, or personal and political security. According to the parliamentarians, the right to a healthy environment should also be embedded in international instruments that influence migration, such as disaster preparedness instruments, economic development strategies or energy production agreements.

Adopting a third resolution, based on a report by Olivier Becht (France, ALDE), the Assembly called on States to review their research and development policies, in order to give priority to the green economy, energy transition and the circular economy, so as to achieve the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.

PACE recommended that States maintain fundamental research projects – which may lead to the discovery of new sources of sustainable energy – and consider new forms of research funding, including the possibility of issuing ‘green bonds’ accessible to the general public. It proposed that the Committee of Ministers set up a framework, such as an enlarged partial agreement, for member States to pool ideas and research resources for targeted projects, and create a bank of strategic resources necessary for energy transition, with a view to strengthening the strategic independence of European countries.