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Special Rapporteur on the human right to a healthy environment

Special Rapporteur on the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable 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). The mandate was extended again on 3 April 2024, and the title changed to Special Rapporteur on the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (A/HRC/RES/55/2).

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

Current mandate holder

Astrid Puentes Riaño

Astrid Puentes Riaño has a Masters degree (LL.M.) in Comparative Law from the University of Florida and in Environmental Law from the University of the Basque Country, and a law degree from the Universidad de Los Andes in Bogota.

Ms. Puentes teaches at the Berta Cáceres Environmental Justice Clinic at the Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico, and has more than twenty years of experience on environmental law, human rights and climate change, and the intersection of these, with a perspective of climate justice, diversity, equity and inclusion. 

Read Astrid Puentes Riaño's full biography

The Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment

For the first time in its history, the United Nations has recognized that everyone, everywhere, has the right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Resolutions from the Human Rights Council in 2021 (A/HRC/RES/48/13) and the General Assembly in 2022 (A/RES/76/300)add this fundamental human right to the library of internationally recognized rights. As humanity confronts an unprecedented planetary crisis, it is our genuine hope that the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment will serve as a catalyst for systemic and transformative changes to produce a just and sustainable future in harmony with nature.

Key Documents


A/HRC/37/59: 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.


A/HRC/43/53: 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.


Materials on the substantive elements of the right to a healthy environment based on thematic reports to HRC and GA


Clean air
Summary of A/HRC/40/55 - Watch the video


Safe climate
Summary of A/74/161 - Watch the video


Healthy ecosystems and biodiversity
Summary of A/75/161 - Watch the video


Safe and sufficient water
Summary of A/HRC/46/28 - Watch the video


Healthy and sustainable food
Summary of A/76/179


Non-toxic environment
Summary of A/HRC/49/53


Recognition of the right to healthy environment
Summary of A/73/188 - Watch the video - Have a look at the factsheet


The right to a Healthy Environment
User guide


Latest thematic reports

Contact Information

Ms. Astrid Puentes Riaño 
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
[email protected]
Follow @SRenvironment on Twitter

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Former mandate holders


Mr. John Knox
2012-2018

David R. Boyd
2018-2024
 

Activities

Statement of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, at the conclusion of country visit to Slovenia
6 October 2022
English | Slovenian

Statement of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, David R. Boyd, at the conclusion of country visit to Portugal
27 September 2022
English | Portuguese

See all

Videos

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