25 March 2024 – Broken Promises: The Disparity Between Environmental Rights and Environmental Realities

This Human Rights Day it is important to draw attention to the inextricable link between environmental rights and human rights.

Section 24 of the Constitution states that everyone has the right to have the environment protected for the benefit of present and future generations, furthermore everyone has the right to an environment which is not harmful to their health or well-being. This creates a positive duty on the State to ensure that South Africans both now and in the future are able to live in a safe and clean environment.

In 2022, the United Nations General Assembly officially recognised that a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a human right. However, already in 2015, climate change had been referenced in the Paris Climate Agreement (a binding multi-lateral treaty). In particular, it states that, state parties, when taking action to address climate change, should respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights.

Despite both local and international measures to incorporate environmental rights as human rights, the environment continues to deteriorate and be exploited.

In the face of this mounting environmental degradation, it is imperative that we recognize the profound interconnectedness between the health of our planet and the fundamental rights of humanity, for safeguarding our environment is not merely a moral imperative but an essential duty inherent to the preservation of our shared future. 

Happy Human Rights Day from everyone at Dawson, Edwards, and Associates!

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