Call for Inputs Healthy and Sustainable Food: Reducing the Environmental Impacts of the Global Food System on Human Rights



Deadline:
May 1, 2021. Unless otherwise requested, all submissions will be made publicly available and posted on the Special Rapporteur’s homepage at the OHCHR website.
Issued by:
UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
Purpose:
To inform the Special Rapporteur's analysis and contribute to his report, which will be presented to the UN General Assembly later in 2021.

Food systems are one of the main reasons we are failing to stay within our planet’s ecological boundaries… The fallout of the assault on our planet is impeding our efforts to eliminate poverty and imperiling food security.”
UN Secretary General, The State of the Planet, 2020

Agreement now exists that human rights norms apply to a broad spectrum of environmental issues, including the adverse impacts of the global food system. The Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Dr. David Boyd, is working to provide additional clarity regarding the substantive rights and obligations that are essential to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. He has submitted reports on clean air, a safe climate, a healthy biosphere, safe and sufficient water, and good practices on the promotion and implementation of the right to a healthy and sustainable environment. He is now preparing a thematic report focusing on human rights and associated obligations related to the adverse environmental impacts of the global food system. For that purpose, he is seeking inputs on the topic from States and stakeholders through responses to the brief questionnaire below.

Your replies will inform the Special Rapporteur’s analysis and contribute to his report, which will be presented to the UN General Assembly later in 2021.

Questionnaire

The Special Rapporteur invites and welcomes your answers to the following questions:

  1. Please provide examples of ways in which the environmental impacts of the global food system are having adverse impacts on human rights. Adversely affected rights could include, among others, the rights to life, health, water and sanitation, food, culture, livelihoods, non-discrimination, a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, and Indigenous peoples’ rights.
  2. How has climate change affected the global food system?
  3. To protect a wide range of human rights, what are the specific obligations of States and responsibilities of businesses in terms of preventing, reducing, or eliminating environmental impacts caused by the unsustainable production or consumption of food? How can we shift to food systems that restore and regenerate nature rather than degrading ecosystems, while providing healthy  diets for a global population that will exceed nine billion by 2050?
  4. Please provide specific examples of constitutional provisions, legislation, institutions, regulations, standards, jurisprudence, policies and programmes that apply a rights-based approach to ensuring healthy and sustainably produced food. Please include, inter alia, any instruments that refer directly to the right to a healthy environment.
  5. If your State is one of the 156 UN Member States that recognizes the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, has this right contributed to preventing, reducing, or eliminating environmental impacts caused by the unstainable production or consumption of food? If so, how? If not, why not?
  6. Please provide specific examples of good practices in preventing, reducing, or eliminating environmental impacts caused by the unstainable production or consumption of food. These examples may occur at the international, regional, national, sub-national, or local level. Examples may involve monitoring food quality; guaranteeing procedural rights (e.g. public access to food information, public participation in decision-making about the environmental impacts of producing or consuming food, access to remedies); new technologies; legislation, regulations, standards, jurisprudence and policies that address the environmental impacts of the food system; and initiatives to achieve healthy and sustainably produced food (e.g. halting land conversion for agriculture, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, reducing air and water pollution, supporting agroecology, agroforestry, organic farming and closed-loop aquaculture, increasing efficiencies, promoting healthy and sustainable diets such as plant-based, and avoiding food waste). Where possible, please provide evidence related to the implementation, enforcement, and effectiveness of the good practices.
  7. Please identify specific challenges that your Government, business, or organization has faced in attempting to employ a rights-based approach to address the environmental impacts of food systems and the consequences of these problems for human rights.
  8. Please specify ways in which additional protection is provided (or should be provided) for small-holders and populations who may be particularly vulnerable to unhealthy and unsustainably produced food (e.g. women, children, persons living in poverty, members of Indigenous peoples and traditional communities, older persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic, racial, religious or other minorities, migrants and displaced persons). How can these populations be empowered to produce and consume healthy and sustainably produced food?
  9. How do you ensure that the rights of environmentalists working on food issues (environmental human rights defenders) are protected? What efforts has your Government, business, or organization made to create a safe and enabling environment for them to freely exercise their rights without fear of violence, intimidation, or reprisal?
  10. There is substantial evidence that the actions of high-income States (e.g. high levels of meat consumption, excessive calories, and food waste) are linked to adverse effects on food availability, food quality and ecosystem health in low- and middle-income States. What are ways in which high-income States should assist low-income States in reducing the environmental impacts of food systems while promoting healthy and sustainably produced food?
  11. For businesses, what policies or practices are in place to ensure that activities, products, and services across the entire food system (production, processing, distribution, marketing, retail, food loss and waste) achieve healthy and sustainably produced food and meet human rights standards, especially those articulated in the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights?

Submission of responses

Please send your responses to the questionnaire in Word format by email to srenvironment@ohchr.org. Submissions will also be accepted via regular mail at the following address:

Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
Special Procedures
Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
Palais des Nations
CH-1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

We kindly request that your submission be concise and limited to a maximum of
5 pages (or 2,000 words), not including appendices or attachments.

Due to a limited capacity for translation, we also request that your inputs be submitted in English, French, or Spanish.

To avoid unnecessary duplication: if you have recently replied to other questionnaires from UN human rights mechanisms (or other international bodies) with information that would be relevant to this request as well, we welcome your directing us to those replies.


Special Procedures
Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
Recent Thematic Reports
Contact Information

Mr. David R. Boyd
Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment
Palais des Nations, 8-14, Avenue de la Paix. 1211 Geneva 10
Switzerland
+41 22 917 9159
srenvironment@ohchr.org
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