PACE today launches a new Parliamentary Network for a Healthy Environment, bringing together almost 30 parliamentarians from some 20 different parliaments across the Council of Europe area to demand that governments create a legal right to a healthy environment and take other urgent steps to deal with the climate crisis.
The network – which eventually aims to include one MP from each of the Council of Europe’s member states, as well as from parliaments with observer or partner for democracy status – grew out of the Assembly’s recently-launched #EnvironmentRightNow initiative, as well as a series of seven PACE resolutions on the topic adopted during an unprecedented all-day debate in September 2021.
“We want to anchor the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment in law, policy, practice and the public consciousness,“ said former PACE President Rik Daems, chairing a first meeting of the Network in Strasbourg today. “Our ultimate goal is the adoption of a protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights which would make it legally enforceable in national courts across the continent and in the Strasbourg Court.”
David Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, welcomed the creation of the network in a video message, and expressed the global body’s support for its work, declaring: “We have the wind in our sails!”. Three children from France, Ireland and the United Kingdom also took the floor remotely to express their hopes for the future, make practical suggestions for change, and urge children’s further involvement in the process.
The Network, which is partly funded by the Belgian Parliament, will undertake a wide range of activities to engage government authorities, mobilise parliaments, raise awareness and inspire new national laws to protect the environment, as well as encouraging states to meet their Paris commitments to limit global warming.