Man’s life is sustained or restrained by the activities ongoing in the environment. Simply put, how long a man lives could be determined by how the environment is polluted or protected. And we can all agree that the environment is groaning due to various unwholesome human activities. Hence, climate change.
There have been loud agitations over the years to salvage man from the environmental crisis. These have birthed the need to view a clean environment as a basic right of man and by extension, every other living creature without which there is no environment. There is a global consensus now that human rights norms apply to environmental issues also, which includes the right to a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. At the international level, there are copious conventions and protocols that lend a voice to this right. see
Human rights and the environment are interlaced. As a result, without human rights, a safe, clean healthy environment cannot be appreciated, and there would be no sustainable governance without respect for human rights. “The relationship is progressively recognized, as the right to a healthy environment. This right has been enshrined in over 100 constitutions.”
However, the UN Environment report in 2019 found that “despite a 38-fold increase in environmental laws put in place since 1972, failure to fully implement and enforce these laws is particularly the major challenges to mitigating climate change, reducing pollution and preventing widespread species and habitat loss. Although there still exist, gaps in many of the laws, the significant improvement of environmental laws have been dramatic.”
When laws are made, they are to be followed and enforced. So, there is a collective call for everyone; individuals, agencies, and government to stick to the laws. Nations that are parties to one environmental treaty or the other, should domesticate them and ensure strict compliance with the laws. Also, more nations need to view the fact that having a clean environment is a human right that must be protected. This is because the right to life is incidental to the right to a clean environment. More so, the environment is a common heritage of mankind, and this means there’s a collective responsibility to protect it.
Finally, making laws might not be sufficient, there’s a need to identify clear cut ways to achieve the objectives of the law. Regulation must be taken seriously; structures must be put in place to ensure that the objectives of the law can be achieved by everyone. For instance, if there a law that forbids people from disposing of waste carelessly on the street, then, there should equally be the provisions of waste bins that encourage the citizens to dispose of waste properly. Good environmental education is also needed to score the goal of the law.
* Opeyemi M. Adebari, LL. B, BL, Graduate student (LL.M, Energy Law) Center for Petroleum Energy Economics and Law (CPEEL), University of Ibadan, Nigeria firstname.lastname@example.org
 John Knox and David Boyd Right to a healthy and sustainable environment report. Available at https://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Environment/SREnvironment/Pages/HealthySustainable.aspx#:~:text=There%20is%20now%20widespread%20agreement,clean%2C%20healthy%20and%20sustainable%20environment.&text=Knox%20submitted%20the%20report%20on,the%20end%20of%20his%20term. Accessed 14th January 2021
 UN Environmental Programme, https://www.unenvironment.org/explore-topics/environmental-rights-and-governance/what-we-do/advancing-environmental-rights/what. Accessed 14th January, 2021.
 Environmental Rule of Law: First Global Report. https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/assessment/environmental-rule-law-first-global-report