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  • Human rights and the environment

    28.04.2022

    How are individuals affected by their environment? How do fundamental human rights relate to the environment and the need to protect it?

    The human factor plays a considerable role in the natural environment leading to its alteration sets the first out of three thematic areas that concern Transition to 8. The implications of industrial activity in environmental degradation began to systematically concern humanity only in the early 1970s, although some sporadic but fruitless efforts had been made earlier (1948). Countries, where the consequences of the industrial growth were evident to the naked eye, were the first to take an interest, as the sensitisation of the public led to the environmental movement and later the establishment of the first green parties.

    During the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment (held in Stockholm on June 5 -established as Environment Day ever since- 1972) was stated that: “Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being and he has a serious responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations”. 

    Regional developments, conferences, studies, legal texts, the establishment of special committees, etc., followed Stockholm’s Conference. In 1983, the United Nations General Assembly established the World Commission on Environment and Development. A decade later, in 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

    To what human rights are the environmental conditions related?

    The right to life, the right to an adequate standard of living and the right to health; the right of access to information and participation in decision-making is indirectly affected, more specifically, the right of citizens and communities to participate in the formation of environmental policies. Most know about the impact of the environment on human health and on people’s ability to enjoy their daily lives in prosperity and harmony. However, many are still unaware of their right to access environmental information, an essential tool for developing effective environmental policies respecting the environment and promoting sustainable development.

    Protecting the environment is directly linked to the protection of human rights. In regions affected by heavy industry, where the atmosphere, land or water are affected by human activity, citizens have the right to be fully informed and participate in environmental policy decision-making. They should be able to constructively criticise the state's action on the environment and protect their right to a healthy environment.

    The importance of safeguarding human rights is undeniable. Social sciences, innovative technology and the arts provide valuable tools. Transition to 8 bridges social phenomena related to human rights and the arts. The project’s teams record the reactions of residents of Eleusis and offer them to artists to create original digital art pieces.