Human Right to a Healthful Environment Emerges as a Global Priority

Amnesty International announced that more than 1,100 civil society and Indigenous peoples’ groups are calling on UN member states to adopt a resolution to formally recognize the right to a healthful environment.  This resolution is on the table at the Human Rights Council meeting (September 13-October 8) in Geneva, Switzerland. 

“The dramatic impacts of climate change have exposed, with devastating clarity, how integral a healthy environment is to the enjoyment of all our other rights. It’s easy to take our planet for granted until we see the human cost of its degradation: hunger, displacement, unemployment, homelessness, illness and deaths,” said Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

What does this mean for our right to a healthful environment in Maryland?

The tide is turning about the importance of protecting our human right to a healthful environment. This call for a resolution to formally recognize the right to a healthful environment by UN Member States reinforces the work we are doing in Maryland and the work being done across 14 other states in the U.S. to legally protect this right in our state constitutions.  

Recognizing the right to a healthful environment is not a new idea. According to Amnesty International, “research [submitted to the Human Rights Council] demonstrates that state-level recognition of the right to a healthy environment contributes to improved environmental outcomes, including cleaner air, enhanced access to safe drinking water, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.” 

Protecting our human right to a healthful environment is critical for Maryland, which is on the front-line of climate change. Communities across our state are already experiencing flooding, sea-level rise, extreme heat, increased severe storms, and tornados.  

What can we do in Maryland?

Our state constitution is the people’s contract with our state elected officials. A proposed Environmental Human Rights amendment would protect our fundamental and inalienable right to a healthful environment in the Declaration of Rights section of our state constitution. The amendment will be submitted as a bill in the next session of the Maryland General Assembly beginning January 2022. Three-fifths of each chamber needs to pass the amendment to put the amendment on the ballot of the next general election, which is when you would have the opportunity to ratify the amendment.

Talk to your Delegates and State Senators (find out who they are here)  and let them know that you want your human right to a healthful environment to be protected in our state constitution, on par with other civil rights. 

Want to know more? 

The Maryland Campaign for Environmental Human Rights is offering training on how to be an ambassador and help educate your representatives and your community about protecting the right to a healthful environment. The next training is October 10, 11, and 12 from 7-8pm. RSVP here. More dates will be offered later in October through mid-December. Contact Nina at to schedule a training for your group of 5 or more. .

The tide is turning. Join us in making a right to a healthful environment an obligation that protects the health of our environment, the health of our communities, and the health of our collective future. Sign up here for email updates about upcoming webinars and actions you can take to support passing the amendment.