Clustered Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment
Item 3: Promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development
4 March 2019
Oral Statement by: International-Lawyers.org and Geneva International Centre for Justice (GICJ)
International-Lawyers.org and Geneva International Centre for Justice commend the Special Rapporteur on Environment for his comprehensive report and for opening the discussion on the dire effects of Air Pollution. While solutions exist to mitigate climate change, political will and necessary resources for effective implementation are lacking. Furthermore, states in Europe and America have failed to provide adequate support to less wealthy states to combat climate change.
We commend the Special Rapporteur for reporting adverse health effects of poor air quality and pollution on people’s health and development, and for viable solutions countries have found to promote citizens’ rights to clean air. However, low- and middle-income countries often do not have the economic resources to invest in cleaner solutions.
Families who often have no choice but to live next to toxic waste sites, are exposed to deadly fumes and invisible toxins. We need to protect our children. Today, 300 million children live in areas with high levels of toxic outdoor air pollution. Small exposure to chemicals in childhood can result in lifelong disease, disability, premature death, and reduced learning potential. The right to clean air is an intrinsic human right, and justice for victims of air pollution must be met.
We must focus on developing countries and find relevant solutions that will not hinder upon their economic growth. Poor air quality is the largest global health risk, and 92% of pollution-related deaths occur in low- and middle-income countries. We encourage the continuation of investigating the link between air quality and climate change, and to create a mandate on human rights and climate change.
Mr. Special Rapporteur,
You mention how poverty forces people to use polluting fuels. However, may you also provide adequate and concrete recommendations specifically for governments in low-income countries to encourage the use of cleaner methods?