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Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment

Purpose of the Mandate

The mandate on human rights and the environment exists to:

  • examine the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment
  • promote best practices of the use of human rights in environmental policymaking
  • Identify challenges and obstacles to the global recognition and implementation of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment
  • Conduct country visits and respond to human rights violations

Learn about why a healthy environment is integral to fully enjoying a wide range of human rights

About the mandate

The Human Rights Council established the mandate for the Independent Expert on human rights and the environment in 2012 (resolution 19/10). Mr. John Knox was appointed the first Independent Expert on human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment for a three year term. His mandate was further extended in March 2015 as a Special Rapporteur for another three years (resolution 28/11). In March 2018, the Human Rights Council further extended the mandate (resolution 37/8) and appointed Mr. David. R. Boyd as the Special Rapporteur for three years. In March 2021 the Human Rights Council extended the mandate for another three years (resolution 46/7).

Learn what the Special Rapporteur is mandated to do, and see resolutions related to the environment

Current Mandate Holder

David R. Boyd, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment David R. Boyd is an associate professor of law, policy, and sustainability at the University of British Columbia. He has a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from UBC, a law degree from the University of Toronto, and a business degree from the University of Alberta. His career has included serving as the executive director of Ecojustice, appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada, and working as a special advisor on sustainability for Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Read David R. Boyd's full biography

Key Documents

Framework Principles

These 16 principles set out the basic obligations of States under human rights law as they relate to the enjoyment of a safe and healthy environment.

PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

Illustrated version PDF in English

Good practices on the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment

The Special Rapporteur provides a study on good practices in the implementation and promotion of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.

PDF: العربية | 中文 | English | Français | русский | Español

Latest Thematic Reports

Healthy and sustainable food: reducing the environmental impacts of food systems on human rights: In this report, the Special Rapporteur, identifies healthy and sustainable food as one of the substantive elements of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. View report page | View document A/76/179.

Human rights and the global water crisis: In this report, the Special Rapporteur looks into the human rights impacts of water pollution, water scarcity and water-related disasters and describes safe and sufficient water as one of the substantive components of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. View report page | View document  A/HRC/46/28

Healthy Biosphere: In this report the Special Rapporteur explores the relationship between a healthy biosphere and the right to a healthy environment. View report page | View document A/75/161 | View reader-friendly version

Good practices on the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment: The Special Rapporteur provides a study on good practices in the implementation and promotion of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. View report page | View document A/HRC/43/53

Safe climate: The Special Rapporteur illustrates the devastating effects of the current global climate, and the crucial role for human rights in catalyzing action to address climate change. View report page | View document A/74/161

Clean air and the right to a healthy and sustainable environment: In this report, the Special Rapporteur explores the right to breathe clean and the negative impact of air pollution on the enjoyment of many human rights. View report page | View document A/HRC/40/55 | View reader-friendly version

Latest Country Reports

Mission to Norway (12-23 September 2019)
View document A/HRC/43/53/Add.2

Mission to Fiji (7-18 December 2018)
View document A/HRC/43/53/Add.1




Latest news


More press releases and statements....

Archived news
(over 3 years old)

Calls for input

Toxic-free places to live, work, study and play
Deadline: 1 November 2021

Healthy and Sustainable Food: Reducing the Environmental Impacts of the Global Food System on Human Rights
Deadline: 1 May 2021
CLOSED

"Too Dirty, Too Little, Too Much: The Global Water Crisis and Human Rights"
Deadline: 10 November 2020 CLOSED

Healthy Ecosystems and Human Rights
Deadline: 15 June 2020
CLOSED

Activities

Policy Brief No. 1 : Human rights-based approaches to conserving biodiversity:
equitable, effective and imperative
Full Brief | Executive Summary

"The importance of a safe climate for human rights"
Watch the video

Joint researchathon on “sacrifice zones and human rights”
English | Español
Deadline: 31 August 2021

"Too Dirty, Too Little, Too Much: The Global Water Crisis and Human Rights"
Read the Report Summary
Watch the Video Teaser and full video

Letter from the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment -
Adopting a rights-based approach to the global climate and biodiversity crises
PDF: English | Français | Español
21 January 2021

Amicus brief in Indonesian air pollution case

Amicus brief in Brazilian climate change case

Amicus brief in Norwegian climate change case

More activities

Videos

26 November 2020
Climate change and human rights
Watch the ted talk- video

Former mandate holder

Mr. John Knox
2012-2018


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
Follow @SRenvironment on Twitter

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