The Right to Food

Without biodiversity, there is not right to adequate food

News - 16.07.2021

19 July 2021, Rome- Insects, bats and birds pollinate more than 75 per cent of crops, and coral reefs provide habitat for 25% of the world´s known marine species. Either plants, animals, soils or oceans, all the examples point in the same direction: the earth is home to extraordinary biodiversity, and this is key for lives and livelihoods.

“All human rights ultimately depend on a healthy biosphere”, said David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, during the Global Dialogue on the role of food and agriculture in the Post 2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, held last July 6 and organized by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). 

Ecosystems provide clean air to breathe, safe water to drink or nutritious food to eat. But biodiversity is disappearing at the hands of human. Since 1970, the human population has doubled and the global economy has quadrupled, and the largest biodiversity losses has been caused by agriculture.

The environmental crisis has negative impacts on a human rights, such as the rights to life, health, water, sanitation and food, mentioned Boyd. Time is running out and sustainable responses are urgent to reverse this trend, and so securing food and achieving the 2030 Agenda.

A pathway for protection

Those most affected by the environmental degradation are the vulnerable people who live in poverty, including women and girls, small farmers and Indigenous Peoples. But at the same time, they can help to preserve global biodiversity.

The Special Rapporteur called to put human rights at the centre of any measures to tackle the environmental crisis.

“Employing a rights-based approach to food systems and the conservation of biodiversity is not an option. It’s an obligation”, explained Boyd. “Human rights have a powerful role in sparking transformative societal changes”, he added.

States are primary responsible for the sustainable use and conservation of biodiversity. Recognizing this right in their constitutions can help increase biodiversity protection.

Private sector can also contribute to a better environment. “Businesses and large conservation organizations must do much more to respect human rights and do no harm in their work”, underlined Boyd.

About the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment

The Human Rights Council established the mandate for the Independent Expert on human rights and the environment in 2012. Seven years later, David. Boyd assumed functions as the Special Rapporteur.

Special rapporteurs are independent experts appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to monitor, promote and raise awareness on a particular human right all around the world, as well as facilitating global discussion. They report at least once a year to the Council on their findings and recommendations, as well as to the UN General Assembly. At times they are the only mechanism speaking out to the international community about human rights issues. 

Currently, the right to a healthy environment has been legally recognised by 156 States (out of 193) in constitutions, legislation and regional treaties. The first step towards the recognition of this human rights occurred almost 50 years ago, during the UN Conference on the Environment.

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