Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment
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Research Handbook on Human Rights and the Environment

Edited by Anna Grear and Louis J. Kotzé

Bringing together leading international scholars in the field, this Research Handbook interrogates, from various angles and positions, the fractious relationship between human rights and the environment and between human rights and environmental law. The Handbook provides researchers and students with a fertile source of reflection and engagement with this most important of contemporary legal relationships. Law’s complex role in the mediation of the relationship between humanity and the living order is richly reflected in this timely and authoritative collection.
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Chapter 10: Constitutions, human rights, and the environment: national approaches

David R. Boyd


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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