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Human rights shielded

Two resolutions related to the environment have been adopted during the 31st regular session of the Human Rights Council.


The session tool place 29 February to 24 March 2016 and was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and UN General Assembly President Mogens Lykketoft. It included discussions on a diverse range of timely matters, including on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and human rights or on climate change and the right to health.


A resolution recognising human rights defenders was passed by the Council, recognising their right to work safely without retaliation for example. The text clearly recognises defenders taking environmental issues upon themselves and received support from 150 NGOs from around the world.


In its yearly resolution on human rights and the environment, the Council also welcomed the work undertaken by UNEP supporting the Special Rapporteur on the topic and in helping to clarify the relationship between human rights and the environment.


In a statement given on behalf of Executive Director Achim Steiner, UNEP furthermore assured its commitment to deliver on the environmental dimension of the 2030 Agenda and to continue its close collaboration with the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, John Knox.


After last year’s focus on the implementation of human rights relating to the environment and on human rights and climate change, this year the Special Rapporteur – John Knox - will zoom in on ecosystems and biological diversity in relation to human rights. Drawing on its expertise, UNEP is an indispensable partner in this field and several joint events are planned for 2016.


Mr Knox’s report was also discussed at an event held in the margins of the Council organised by the Special Rapporteur together with the Geneva Environment Network and UNEP. There, Mr Knox explained work carried out under his mandate so far and his recommendations to the Council. UNEP could provide model legislation on environmental provisions, he suggested.


Sylvie Motard, Deputy-Director of the Regional Office for Europe, meanwhile spoke at a side event on climate change, gender equality and the human rights of women organized by Canada. Stressing the need to respond to the increased challenges that women face with regard to climate change, she introduced the Flagship Programme on Women's Entrepreneurship for Sustainable Energy led by UNEP and UN Women.


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