Environment NOT Recommended for the Australian Bill of Rights

The National Human Rights Consultation Committee has released recommendations on human rights protection in Australia.

The committee received 35,000 submissions
245 submissions specifically recommended protection of environmental rights
95% of people surveyed thought the right to a clean and healthy environment was important or very important.

The Committee did not recommend the inclusion of environmental rights in Australian human rights protection.

Public interest for the inclusion of environment in human rights is recognition of the role that biodiversity plays in supporting human ecosystem services, on which the Australian economy depends. It is implicit in key Guiding Principles of Biodiversity in Impact Assessment (IAIA, 2005):

Equitable Sharing - ensuring traditional rights and uses of biodiversity are recognised and the benefits from commercial use of biodiversity are shared fairly. Consider the needs of future as well as current generations (inter-generational needs): seek alternatives that do not trade in biodiversity “capital” to meet short term needs, where this could jeopardise the ability of future generations to meet their needs

The committee has recommended the inclusion of "second generation rights" such as protection and promotion of economic, social and cultural rights but has not recommended inclusion of "new and emerging rights" such as "the right to a clean and healthy environment". Does this mean that the right to environmental protection could give way to economic gain in future?

For more information on the human rights consultation, download the committee report. The Public Interest Advocacy Centre (PIAC) and Environment Defenders Office (EDO) have published a Bill of Rights Fact Sheet.

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