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Statement by Iceland in exchange of views with Dr. David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment

Council of Europe, Committee of Ministers, 1424th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies. Statement delivered by Sandra Lyngdorf.

Thank you Chair.

We warmly welcome the President of the Human Rights Council, Ambassador Villegas, and Special Rapporteur Boyd to Strasbourg – albeit virtually – and we welcome the focus of today’s interactive thematic discussion.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, has long called on Member States to take bold actions to give prompt and real effect to the right to a healthy environment and the adoption of HRC resolution 48/13 certainly answered this call. We thank the core group in Geneva – including Slovenia and Switzerland - for putting this text forward. Bachelet hoped that the resolution would serve as a springboard to push for transformative economic, social, and environmental policies that will protect people and nature and we thank Mr Giakoumopoulos for providing an overview of the Council of Europe’s work in this area.

Human rights and the environment is a priority for us and the Council of Europe and the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights has affirmed the undeniable interconnections between environmental protection and human rights. We all have a right to a safe, healthy, and clean environment and that right underpins many of our other human rights. We carry a joint responsibility for protecting our environment, not only so that we can sustain ourselves, but also to sustain future generations. The Council of Europe – as other bodies and organizations – cannot stand by as the world deals with monumental changes to our environment. Here we see an opportunity for the Council of Europe to maintain its progressive role in developing new standards.

Mr. Boyd, while conducting your research, have you identified any legal gaps at the regional level in the environmental sphere in our Council of Europe region? And looking to the future in terms of new instruments, binding or non-binding, what further legal protection in the environmental sphere do you think Council of Europe Member States could consensually agree on right now?


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