Delivered at UN high-level thematic debate on "Delivering climate action: for people, planet and prosperity"
I am Rik Daems, I am the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.
The last 18 months we’ve been working on a basic question. Is a clean, safe, healthy, sustainable environment a basic human right?
We approached it in a holistic way through seven reports and all seven reports came to the same conclusion, unanimously by the way. Yes! A clean, safe, healthy and sustainable environment is a basic human right - and it should be treated as such.
In our case, the Council of Europe’s case, it means that now we have a recommendation - which is basically a request to the Committee of Minsters, to the 47 governments - to make that work. Through binding rules, through a convention, a treaty, maybe even through a protocol including this in the European Convention on Human Rights.
I understand that the United Nations Council for Human Rights has done a similar thing. I congratulate them on that, I commend them on that, because - as I got it - they decided, also in a unanimous way, that a clean, safe, healthy and sustainable environment is a human right.
Now this should come, as I understand, before the General Assembly as a resolution. What I would like to state to you is that the Council of Europe stands with you.
I hope that the General Assembly will accept the resolution that will put the environment as a basic human right and that we can go forward, the both of us, to defend this issue throughout the world.
By the way, this is the one topic that can have us reconnect to that 1.5 billion young people who are looking at us, asking: ‘what are you doing to make our lives safer and better in the future?’.
Let’s do it together. Thank you.