Human Rights & Environment in the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Orellana) (February 2012)

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As the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in June 2012 nears, the international community is once more faced with the challenge of integrating a complex array of environmental, social and economic issues within the umbrella of sustainable development. Addressing the challenge of integration in Rio+20 cannot ignore the efforts at integration of human rights and environment in the context of sustainable development, as those linkages have become increasingly established in international law. Similarly, effective implementation of the Rio+20 Conference depends on a rightsbased approach to sustainable development.

Rio+20’s institutional framework theme focuses on the institutional and governance arrangements necessary for sustainable development. In the aftermath of the 1992 Earth Summit, the UN General Assembly established the Commission on Sustainable Development to ensure effective follow‐up of the Earth Summit. Also, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development that emerged from the Earth Summit identified access to information, public participation and access to justice as central elements of environmental governance (Principle 10).

This Issue Brief explores the role of the human rights and environment linkage in strengthening the Rio+20 process and outcome. It begins with an account of historical context. Then it explores the basic linkages between governance, human rights and the environment. It also offers an initial evaluation of the Zero Draft of the outcome document for Rio+20.

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