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We just got a crucial new tool for climate action, let's get to work!

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”? 

Featured story
With 161 votes in favour, and eight abstentions, the UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution on Thursday, declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, a universal human right.

Find out why this decision is so important.
Read the featured story

UN News editor's picks
Global awareness critical to protect world’s mangroves: UN science chief
Time is running out to protect the world’s mangroves which are not only home to many species but also an important hedge against climate impacts

Read more
Climate change: New approach needed to gauge animal health impact on emissions
Animal health is important to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but greater investment is needed to evaluate the impact.

Read more
WMO warns of frequent heatwaves in decades ahead

The World Metrological Organization (WMO) warned that heatwaves will occur more and more frequently, into the 2060s.

Read more
UN report: Value of nature must not be overridden by pursuit of short-term profit
The values that we ascribe to nature are vital parts of our cultures, identities, economies, and ways of life, all of which should be reflected in policy decisions surrounding our natural world.
Read more
Kenya’s Kuruwitu corals are back, thanks to local conservation drive
A small, quiet village in Kenya has found a new purpose in the fishing industry through a successful marine coral conservation project, the first of its kind in the Marine Protected Areas of the western side of the Indian Ocean.
Read more
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 Featured podcast:
Awake at Night: Climate Action in the Shadow of War 
Vladislav Kaim is dedicated to protecting the environment. A member of the UN Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, he promotes green jobs, the energy transition, and generous climate finance - urgent priorities for our rapidly warming world. Yet the war in Ukraine has blown apart regional and global networks working towards a livable future.
Vladislav Kaim interviewed by Melissa Fleming
Listen here

From UN Climate Action
Hindou Ibrahim: Living in harmony with nature
Indigenous peoples and climate 
Read here

Featured video:

Solutions: UN Climate Leaders 

Three governments who are moving the needle on climate change

From our UN chief:
Read and watch here


Asian countries collaborate to fight illegal wildlife trade

From snow leopards and red pandas in Bhutan, to orang-utans in Indonesia, to tigers and elephants in India, our world is richer and more whole – as well as more bounteous and productive - because these species are in it.
Follow the photostory

Social Media moment:

Mangroves and climate

Featured from UN agencies: 

Saving our soils by all earthly ways possible
Did you know that the equivalent of one soccer pitch of soil erodes every five seconds? Yet it takes 1,000 years to produce just a few centimetres of topsoil.

We rely on soils for 95 percent of the food we consume. Yet on this course, by 2050, 90 percent of all soils are set to be degraded. Without change, degrading soils will put in jeopardy our ecosystems, our climate and food security.
Read the story
Connect4Climate Intergenerational Conversations series
Young activists talk with senior officials about their thoughts on the past, present and future of climate action. 
Featured report:

State of Climate Ambition regional snapshots

The UN Development Programme's Climate Promise dives into regional insights, gaps, trends, and opportunities regarding climate action. 
Read here

From UN Climate Change 
Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week builds regional momentum for climate action

This year’s Latin America and Caribbean Climate Week (LACCW 2022) in Santo Domingo wrapped up, having helped build crucial regional momentum in the fight against climate change ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 in November.

Empowering climate change-affected communities through photography

How can we communicate the climate crisis in the most effective way? How can we ensure that the stories of those most affected by the changing climate are heard? It is an unfortunate element of the climate crisis that those most affected by droughts, floods, storms and rising temperatures are those who have contributed the least towards raising emissions.
To keep an eye on:

In case you want to catch up:

Here are more climate stories, updates and blogs by UN Agencies:

People everywhere are taking steps to be part of the solution to the climate crisis. More than 7 million actions have been logged through the ActNow campaign
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