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Biodiversity and Human Rights

Background and summary of the report (A/HRC/34/49)

In its resolution 28/11, the Human Rights Council recognized the ongoing need to clarify some aspects of the human rights obligations relating to the environment. The Council asked the Special Rapporteur to continue to study those obligations, in consultation with Governments, human rights mechanisms, civil society organizations and others. The Special Rapporteur then submitted a report on human rights and biodiversity to the 34th session of the Council.

In this report (A/HRC/34/49), former Special Rapporteur Mr. John H. Knox examines the human rights obligations relating to the conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity (biodiversity). He describes the importance of ecosystem services and biodiversity for the full enjoyment of human rights and outlines the application of human rights obligations to biodiversity-related actions.

Conclusions of the report

Biodiversity around the world is rapidly being degraded and destroyed, with grave and far-reaching implications for human well-being. A human rights perspective on biodiversity is important because it:

(a) Helps clarify that the loss of biodiversity also undermines the full enjoyment of human rights;
(b) Heightens the urgent need to protect biodiversity;
(c) Helps promote policy coherence and legitimacy in the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity.

Preparation of the report

In preparation of the report, the Special Rapporteur held a meeting of experts and a public consultation in September 2016 (Concept Note). He also attended the 2016 World Conservation Congress and the 13th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity.

The Special Rapporteur examined statements and reports by international organizations, human rights mechanisms, scholars and other sources.

In addition, he sent a questionnaire to States (English | French | Spanish) and other interested stakeholders (English | French | Spanish), which elicited over 60 responses. All submissions to the questionnaire are available here.

Access the individual submissions and a summary of all submissions here.

Human Rights Council presentation

The Special Rapporteur's statement to the Council is available here. The video of his interactive dialogue with states and other stakeholders can be viewed here.

Press release

He issued a press release on 1 March 2017 and called for states to fulfill their human rights obligations in protecting biodiversity.