• Lead-organizer: Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)
  • 15:30 - 17:00
  • Date: 19 Jun 2012
  • Room: T-5

Human Rights at the heart of Sustainable Development - Honouring Principle 1

Organizing partners



The 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development was founded on human rights principles starting with Principle One - "Human beings should be placed at the centre of concerns for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.?

The thematic focus of this panel will be on human rights and sustainable development, and why a human rights-based approach is critical to the success of achieving the twin goals of (i) moving towards a green economy and (ii) building the institutional framework for sustainable development.

Since the 1992 Earth Summit the world has seen tremendous changes. Within a generation, nearly one and half billion people have been added to the planet ? around a billion in cities. Globalization has intensified, but its benefits have not been shared equally. Inequalities have widened and despite some progress in achieving the MDGs, there are massive disparities between and within countries. The last decade has seen the hottest temperatures since humans began recording temperatures around 150 years ago. Climate change threatens to destroy our path towards sustainable development, a global financial crisis has shaken the planet?s economic foundations, and a global food crisis has brought suffering and unrest. Perhaps most worryingly, the global political will to address the structural and root causes of these multiple crises seems ever elusive.

In the pursuit of an institutional framework for sustainable development, human rights, development and the environment are intricately linked. A healthy environment is a key factor in promoting human health and life, basic human rights and creating sustainable development. To encourage and promote sustainable development, integrated strategies and policies regarding human rights and the environment need to be developed to create an effective strategy. A human rights-based approach to sustainable development is central to efforts to move towards a green economy that will deliver benefits to the international community in addressing food, energy and water security and the MDGS.

Detailed programme


Welcome and introduction by Moderator, Craig Mokhiber, Chief of the Development and Economic and Social Issues Branch (OHCHR)


Opening remarks by Special Guest, Ambassador Rubens Ricupero, former Brazilian Chair of the 1992 Rio Declaration

Ms Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)

Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)

Dr Kumi Naidoo, Executive Director, Greenpeace International

Mr Antonio Tujan, International Director, IBON Foundation

Ms Jessica Evans, Senior Representative, Human Rights Watch

The panel will address how human rights and the environment play an integral, indivisible role in achieving sustainable development and demonstrates how environmental and human rights policies affect each other and can be mutually beneficial. We will hear the perspective of the two Heads of the principal UN Agencies concerned with the promotion and protection of human rights and the environment, as well as key representatives of civil society. Each will explain from their own unique perspective why there is an urgent need to strengthen international commitment and joint action in favour of sustainable development and its institutional framework at all levels, and to do so in a manner that fully respects human rights.

The panel will take questions via Twitter. Ask questions and follow live tweet of the event: Use #RightsRio (
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