Research Handbooks in Human Rights series
Edited by Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotzé
Chapter 10: Constitutions, human rights, and the environment: national approaches
The right to a healthy environment has been the subject of extensive philosophical debate for four decades. This Chapter chronicles the extent to which this human right has spread across the world in both international and national law. Even more importantly, this Chapter explores the tangible effects of constitutional recognition of this right: does the right to a healthy environment and the associated responsibilities result in stronger environmental legislation, an enhanced role for the judiciary in environmental policy-making, greater public procedural rights and on-the-ground changes in environmental quality? This Chapter summarizes a pioneering analysis of 193 constitutions and the laws and court decisions from more than 100 nations in Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa. It reveals a strong and consistent positive correlation between constitutional protection and stronger environmental laws, smaller ecological footprints, superior environmental performance, and improved quality of life.
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