The Centre for Environmental Law and Global Sustainability co-hosted the first symposium on environmental rights in Canada, which took place on February 15th. Along with CELGS, this one-day symposium was hosted by The David Suzuki Foundation, Ecojustice, and the the University of Ottawa Human Rights Research and Education Centre. It brought together leading academics, advocates and policy-makers to profile research in this area and related policy developments.
Throughout Canada, a conversation is building about integrating a human rights approach in environmental protection. There is also growing awareness about environmental protection gaps and related adverse effects on human health in the absence of legal recognition of the right to a healthy environment in Canada. Most countries already recognize environmental rights either in their constitutions or in statute, so there is a wealth of information from other countries about how to operationalize a human rights approach to environmental protection and the practical effects of recognizing environmental rights in law. Canadian researchers are also recognized leaders in the field. Recently, a House of Commons standing committee recommended amendments to the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 (CEPA) to recognize environmental rights. This event aimed to profile evidence and experience that will be relevant to Canadian decision-makers.