It’s official! The UN General Assembly, the main policy-making organ of the United Nations, has adopted a resolution recognizing that living in a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is a universal human right.

So, what does this mean for climate action?

Human rights experts say that the resolution will change the very nature of international human right law, empowering ordinary people to demand that governments and businesses protect the environment and uphold a range of related human rights, instead of just “nagging” them about doing a better job taking care of the home that we all share.

In 2010, the Assembly – comprised of 193 countries, making it the UN’s most representative body – recognized the human right to water and sanitation and acknowledged that clean drinking water and sanitation “are essential to the realization of all human rights”.

Since then, many governments have responded by changing their constitutions, their highest and most robust laws, and have worked to improve the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Ensuring a healthy environment means tackling the “triple planetary crisis” UN Secretary-General António Guterres has warned us about many times: climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss.

The resolution is expected to be a catalyst for action to address these challenges by reducing carbon emissions, improving air quality, and restoring our fragile planetary ecosystems, among other solutions.

It also represents a key victory in the decades-long battle for environmental justice that has been waged by environmentalists and human rights defenders, following last year’s landmark decision by the UN Human Rights Council to recognize that a safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is just as important as other fundamental rights, including those set out in the Universal Declaration.

Of course, we give you all the details about this milestone for humanity and our planet in our featured story below.

In today’s newsletter, we also recap an issue we know is on all your minds: the record-breaking heatwaves that have baked huge swaths of the northern hemisphere in the past weeks. We also spotlight the importance of animal health to reduce carbon emissions, and how mangroves are critical for climate action.

Read on to understand how the Ukraine war is hampering climate action, and to find out the answers to these two questions: What does food have to do with climate change? And, why did the UN chief just say the world is currently choosing “collective suicide”? 

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