By Burak Bir
ANKARA (AA) - A UN decision to declare that everyone has a right to a healthy environment is "a glimmer of hope" when the world is going through global crises that hinder efforts to curb climate change, according to a Turkish expert.
The UN General Assembly adopted by consensus a resolution Thursday declaring the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right essential for the full enjoyment of all human rights.
Costa Rica, the Maldives, Morocco, Slovenia, and Switzerland presented the draft text to the 193-member Assembly in June, following the "landmark resolution" adoption of a similar text that was adopted last October by the UN Human Rights Council.
The decision is "historic" as the right was not included in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.
"This resolution sends a message that nobody can take nature, clean air and water, or a stable climate away from us – at least, not without a fight," said Inger Andersen, executive director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP), following the session when the resolution was adopted by a 161-0 vote, with eight abstentions.
- Not binding, late, but important step
Baran Bozoglu, head of the Climate Change Policy and Research Association, based in the Turkish capital of Ankara, spoke to Anadolu Agency about the decision and how global developments affects efforts to stem climate change.
Bozoglu said the action is actually "late and not a binding one," however, he noted that it will play a role in helping to make the environment more healthy and sustainable.
Access to a healthy environment has already been accepted by some countries, including Türkiye, where it was included in its current Constitution that took effect in 1982, said Bozoglu.
"At least it will be an important basis for environmental movements or people working on the issue in those regions (where a clean environment is not seen as a right)," he said.
In response to a question about global developments related to drawbacks on efforts to counter climate change, Bozoglu said undoubtedly, all issues in the international arena affect the fight against climate change one way or another.
"A global problem that affects the whole world affects other global problems such as financial problems. And wars affect the decisions taken by societies in the fight against climate change," he said.
- Russian-Ukraine war affecting climate policies
Bozoglu said people have a comfort zone and societies anticipate fighting the climate without compromising standards so neither the UN's resolutions nor the Paris climate agreement foresees a serious change in the lifestyles of societies.
"The Russia-Ukraine war affects the whole world as part of energy and food issues. Therefore, we see that there are also differences between the decisions taken in the past, before the war and the decisions taken today in climate policies," he said, referring to changes in "green policies" such as the goal of the EU to wean itself off Russian fossil fuels prompted its decision to keep natural gas and nuclear energy in its taxonomy of sustainable sources of energy.
Defining the current situation as "sad," Bozoglu said the world is going through a period where hopes for the future are shaken.
He said the coronavirus pandemic and wars in various parts of the world create significant obstacles, difficulties in fighting climate change and the work on the right to live in a healthy environment.
"For this reason, the decision taken by the UN is an important step, a glimmer of hope," Bozoglu said, adding there is a need for global coordination to end crises and wars to fight climate change.
"Otherwise, we can start thinking that there would be great difficulties in reaching the targets set by the Paris agreement and that we will not be successful," he said.
The Paris agreement, signed Dec. 12, 2015, sets out a global framework to avoid dangerous climate change by limiting global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius and pursuing efforts to limit it to 1.5 degrees Celsius.