The Assembly’s Parliamentary Network for a Healthy Environment has urged Council of Europe leaders – meeting at the Reykjavik Summit in three weeks – to place the protection of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment high on their agenda.
“Governments should seize this unique opportunity to respond, at the highest political level, to pressing and widespread public demands to tackle the climate crisis,” the Network, meeting on the margins of the Assembly’s spring session, said in a statement.
Network Chair Rik Daems (Belgium, ALDE) said the Summit should act as an “accelerator” in the drive towards realising such a right. He called for “tangible results” in the political declaration adopted at the end of the summit, adding: “It’s up to heads of state and government to create the momentum so that we do not lose the young people of Europe.”
“Other regions of the world have already incorporated environmental rights in their arsenal of protection of human rights. We are running late,” Mr Daems pointed out. He urged more ambition, suggesting the creation of a Reykjavik Committee on environmental rights, as well as greater resources dedicated to this area of work.
The Network also heard from Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić, who told the parliamentarians: "We need more urgent, multilateral action to protect the environment and tackle climate change."
In a resolution adopted in January, the Assembly urged Council of Europe heads of state and government to take the lead on environmental protection and tackling climate change, and support a legally-binding framework to guarantee the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.