The right to a healthy environment: A prescription for Canada

Abstract

This invited commentary summarizes the need for stronger Canadian environmental laws and policies. The environmental burden of disease in Canada is substantial. In part this is due to environmental laws and policies that are significantly weaker and less effective than corresponding rules in other wealthy industrialized nations. One promising approach is recognition of the right to live in a healthy environment. In particular, constitutional recognition of this right in 100 nations has led to stronger environmental laws, better enforcement of those laws, enhanced public participation in environmental decision-making, and superior environmental outcomes (e.g., faster progress in reducing air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions). In light of Canada’s weak environmental record, this potentially transformative approach is particularly promising.

Citation

Boyd, David R. The right to a healthy environment: A prescription for Canada. Canadian Journal of Public Health, 2015, Vol.106(6), pp.e353-e354

Author(s)

David R Boyd

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The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment

Abstract

The right to a healthy environment has been the subject of extensive philosophical debates that revolve around a key question: Should rights to clean air, water, and soil be entrenched in law, in the constitutions of democratic states?

In The Environmental Rights Revolution, David Boyd, one of Canada’s leading environmental lawyers, answers this question by moving beyond theoretical debate to measure the practical effects of enshrining the right to a healthy environment in constitutions. His analysis of 193 constitutions and the laws and court decisions of more than 100 nations shows how the constitutional right to a healthy environment has been incorporated in legislation and is being judicially enforced in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. Nations with constitutional protections have stronger environmental laws, enhanced enforcement, greater government accountability, and better access to justice, information, and public participation in decision making than nations without such provisions. As a result, they also have smaller ecological footprints, rank higher on comprehensive indices of environmental performance, and have reduced pollution faster.

This important and timely book not only demonstrates that enshrining environmental protection into national constitutions has the power to make sustainability a priority, it tells inspiring stories about the difference the right to a healthy environment is making in people’s lives.

Citation

Boyd, David R. The Environmental Rights Revolution: a Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment. UBC Press, 2012.

Author(s)

David R Boyd

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The Implicit Constitutional Right to Live in a Healthy Environment

Abstract

The right to a healthy environment has rapidly gained constitutional protection around the world. In at least twenty countries, recognition of the right to a healthy environment first occurred through court decisions determining that it is implicit in other constitutional provisions, primarily the right to life. The right is now recognized explicitly in the constitutions of 90 countries spanning Europe, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa, and is recognized as an implicit and enforceable constitutional right in at least twelve additional countries. The decisions of international courts and tribunals provide further support for concluding that the right to life necessarily includes the right to a healthy environment.

Citation

Boyd, David R. “The Implicit Constitutional Right to Live in a Healthy Environment.” Review of European Community & International Environmental Law 20, no. 2 (2011): 171–79. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9388.2011.00701.x.

Author(s)

David R Boyd

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The Implicit Constitutional Right to Live in a Healthy Environment (D. R. Boyd)

Author David R. Boyd Keywords constitutional rights, healthy environment, environmental rights, human rights Abstract The right to a healthy environment has rapidly gained constitutional protection around the world. In at least twenty countries, recognition of the right to a healthy environment first occurred through court decisions determining that it is implicit in other constitutional provisions, primarily the right to life. […]

The Contribution of International Rights Law to Environmental Protection, with Special Reference to Global Change (A. A. Cançado Trindade)

Author(s) A.A. Cançado Trindade Keywords human rights, environmental protection, globalization, internationalization, temporal dimension, right to life, Ratio Legis, right to health, healthy environment, vulnerability, implementation, international refugee law Abstract I. The Growth of Human Rights Protection and Environmental Protection: From Internationalization to Globalization. II. The Incidence of the Temporal Dimension in Environmental Protection and in […]