Legal recognition of the human right to a healthy environment in Australia: useful, redundant, or dangerous?

Meg Good
6 Jul 2018

In a recent PhD thesis [link to], Meg Good explores whether legal recognition of the human right to a healthy environment would be a useful tool for environmental protection in Australia. The thesis conducts a case study on Australian water resources management, concentrating on one particular rights-based approach, the legal recognition of the human right to a healthy environment. The thesis identifies "a number of potential benefits for environmental protection in Australia associated with international legal recognition of the right. Specifically, increased scrutiny of Australia’s environmental protection performance, the opportunity to learn from international experiences with implementation of the right, and the facilitation of comparison against an international standard." Domestic recognition of the human right to a healthy environment also offers potential benefits including "increased prioritisation of environmental protection considerations in government decision-making, and increased avenues to bring legal actions in the interests of environmental protection."

This is a complex topic. The author hopes "that the research will contribute to a national discussion regarding the adequacy of traditional legal and regulatory approaches to environmental protection, and to a broader international discussion concerning the utility of rights-based approaches to environmental protection."


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