Linking human rights and the environment: illustrations

22 April 2020

New visual materials depict the human rights obligations and responsibilities related to the environment.

Human rights and the environment are intrinsically intertwined: a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment reinforces our human rights; whilst polluted, hazardous and otherwise unhealthy environments potentially violate our human rights.¹ Governments must protect, businesses must respect, and people must exercise environmental rights if we wish to tackle environmental challenges.

Essentially, environmental rights are an extension of our human rights. Environmental rights are not abstract, remote, irrelevant concepts; they are measurable, prominent and functional aspects of society and its ecology. Everyone should be able to understand and identify them and their effects. 

These illustrations display only some examples of human rights obligations in the environment and are not meant to be exhaustive. Moreover, each environmental right can be applied to several activities and circumstances- beyond those depicted in the illustrations.

The United Nations Environment Programme works to promote, protect and respect environmental rights.

1Whether environmental pollution and degradation is recognized as human rights violations, depends on the laws recognized in your area. Visit here for geographically-based information and links to resources on environment-related human rights.