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Right to Clean Environment



  • GS 3: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.



  • Recently, the U. N. Human Rights Council has recognized the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right.


National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI)


Key points

  • The resolution was first discussed in the 1990s, however, it is not legally binding. Nevertheless, it has the potential to shape global standards.
  • It could help the climate lawyers to build arguments in cases involving the environment and human rights.
  • It was proposed by Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia and Switzerland.
  • It was passed with 43 votes in favour and 4 abstentions from Russia, India, China and Japan.
  • Human rights council has also appointed a special rapporteur to monitor impact of climate crisis on rights.
  • It is significant as it came just weeks before the crucial COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland.


Right to Clean Environment_3.1


How will it help?

  • Global recognition of this right will help empower local communities to
    • defend their livelihoods,
    • defend their right to health,
    • Culture against environmental destruction,
  • It will also help governments develop stronger and more coherent environmental protection laws and policies.


High Ambition Coalition (HAC) for Nature and People


Environment: A basic right

  • A healthy environment is an essential aspect of the right to life, for both human beings and animals.
  • Violation of the right to healthy environment is a violation of the basic right to life.


Global Methane Pledge


Right to clean environment: Indian constitution

  • Article 21: In the case of Subhash Kumar case, the apex court held that the right to pollution free environment is a fundamental right under Article 21 of our constitution.
  • Article 48(A) provides for the protection and improvement of the environment and safeguarding of forests and wildlife.
  • Article 51A requiring a citizen to protect and improve the natural environment including the forests, lakes, rivers and wildlife and to have compassion for living creatures.
  • Article 253 provides ‘Parliament has the power to make any law for the whole or any part of the country for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention with any other country’.
    • All international environmental treaties like the Stockholm convention and Convention on Biological Diversity, among others are signed by the Indian Parliament under this Article of the constitution.


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