In recognition of the accelerating climate crisis and the challenges it creates for the effective enjoyment of human rights, Fiji participated in an event called “The Time Is Now”.
The event was hosted by the Universal Rights Group on the case for the universal recognition of a right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment on the margins of the High Level Segment of the 46th Session of the Human Rights Council last week.
Since becoming a member of the Human Rights Council (HRC) in 2018 and as the first Pacific Small Island Developing State elected to the HRC, Fiji has participated in numerous high level panel discussions and side events to shed light on the linkages and mutually dependent nature of upholding human rights everywhere and the sustainability of the environment.
Fiji has led the way in normalising conversations surrounding climate justice and human rights in such global platforms and spaces. Fiji has further pledged to champion global recognition of the universal right to a safe and healthy environment.
Honourable Dr. Mahendra Reddy, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment affirmed the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment as enshrined in the Fijian Constitution which rendered the protection of the natural world as sacred to all Fijians. He further affirmed that Fiji had safeguarded environmental protection as supreme law by taking the rights-based approach enshrined in our constitutional Bill of Rights.
Hon. Reddy emphasised that a clean and healthy environment was the greatest gift that communities could give their children and their posterity. To achieve this vision, he called for collective action and responsibility, stating: “No ecosystem can be kept safe unless all are. And the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment for Fijians and all global citizens, can only be secured through humanities collective commitment.”
Hon. Reddy informed the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, that Fiji is in total support of her leadership to secure the universal recognition of a right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment for all people and the time to act is now.
Other prominent speakers who spoke following the Hon Minister Reddy’s opening remarks included the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Michelle Bachelet.
The Universal Rights Group is an independent think tank dedicated to analysing and strengthening global human rights policy. Being the only such institution in Geneva and the only think tank in the world focused exclusively on human rights, it aims to supporting and strengthening policy-making and policy-implementation in the international human rights system by providing rigorous yet accessible, timely and policy-relevant research, analysis and recommendations.