Do countries with the right to a healthy environment actually have healthier environments and people?
In general, these countries have smaller ecological footprints, rank higher on comparisons of environmental performance and have done a better job of addressing issues such as air pollution and climate change than countries like Canada whose constitutions lack this right. If you look at the environmental records of countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, which includes most of the world's wealthy industrialized nations, you find 14 of the top 15 nations have constitutional provisions mandating environmental protection. Six of the seven countries with the worst environmental records lack constitutional protection for the environment.
What is it going to take to convince our government to change the constitution?Dr David R Boyd is hoping a movement to enshrine this right in the Canadian constitution will gather momentum and become a non partisan issue in the next three years. He wrote a book on this topic called The Right to a Healthy Environment. You can buy it at http://www.ubcpress.ca/search/title_book.asp?BookID=299173851 but it's $ 85.00 - let's hope local university libraries have bought it!
An amendment needs to gain the support of Parliament and seven out of 10 provinces in a three-year period. So while it will be a challenge to change the constitution, it's not impossible—especially since a recent poll found that nine out of 10 Canadians support protection of the right to a healthy environment.
It's also heartening to see how other countries have embraced such constitutional change. In France a few years ago, President Chirac demonstrated tremendous commitment in promoting a Charter for the Environment, and the people of France were overwhelmingly supportive. In Ecuador and Bolivia, Indigenous people played a key role in constitutional reforms that not only recognized the right to a healthy environment but also the rights of Nature. http://www.davidsuzuki.org/blogs/docs-talk/2012/10/a-healthy-environment-should-be-a-basic-human-right/
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