Why does environmental rights and governance matter?

In Environmental rights and governance

In our globalized world, environmental threats require effective responses that promote peace, justice, development and the fulfilment of environmental and human rights.

UN Environment promotes sound environmental governance – the rules, policies and institutions that shape how humans interact with the environment. By building robust governance systems, we can safeguard the environment and human rights and work toward all 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals.

We help governments lay the foundations for smart environmental laws and policies that help protect the environment from degradation and fulfil environmental and human rights obligations. Our partnerships – with national governments, judges, parliamentarians, enforcement officers and other policymakers – are one of our greatest assets. Through these partnerships, we help people working in sectors such as agriculture, fisheries, forestry and tourism to incorporate environmental concerns into their work.

Our work includes assisting governments in obtaining environmental information for decision-making, and providing citizens with greater access to information pertaining to their environmental rights; enhancing environmental cooperation at the global and regional levels; developing and applying national and international environmental law; promoting, protecting and respecting environmental rights; and encouraging links between civil society and governments in the development and implementation of environmental policies. We also identify common goals across international environmental agreements and support dialogues on environmental issues at the regional level.

“We may sometimes think of the law as something divorced from our day-to-day lives, but for many of us it is the reason we can still breathe fresh air, drink clean water, and sleep safely at night. Sadly, it is also the reason why so many cannot. At UN Environment we are working with countries to influence the policies and law-making processes that will enable people to live dignified lives – wherever they are.”


Erik Solheim, UN Environment Executive Director

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In Environmental rights and governance