As global fraternity, we must encourage tech transfer to deal environmental pollution challenges: NHRC

New Delhi: Adopting a rights-based approach to environmental protection ensures that everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, can live in a clean and safe environment, NHRC chairperson justice (retd) Arun Kumar Mishra said on Monday.

In a written message on World Environment Day, issued by the National Human Rights Commission on Monday, he said environmental protection has a “vital connection” with human rights.

Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and held annually on June 5 since 1973, World Environment Day is the largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world, the UN says on its website.

“The day reminds us that sustainable development envisages protecting the environment, which is crucial for human existence. Adopting a rights-based approach to environmental protection ensures that everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances, can live in a clean and safe environment,” justice Mishra said.

The NHRC chief asserted that plastic has emerged as a “serious threat” to environment, both on the earth and the seas.

“As a global fraternity, we must encourage technology transfer to each other to deal with the challenges of environmental pollution. Therefore, this year’s World Environment Day theme – ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ – very aptly underlines the urgent need to combat the detrimental effects of plastic on our planet and promote alternative eco-friendly usable replacing single-use plastic material, which is necessary to preserve human life and protect rights,” he said.

In this regard, “rigorous policy decisions” to check the spread of plastic and other such pollutants which endanger our environment and climate are required, he added.

It is a known fact that the production, consumption, and disposal of plastic impact human rights, such as the right to health, clean water, food security, and a safe and healthy environment. Communities living near plastic production facilities or waste disposal sites often face adverse health effects. Plastic reduces the fertility of the land also, the NHRC chief said.

He also flagged that the “Great Pacific garbage patch” is a matter of concern for the world.

The NHRC has been consistent with its pro-environment protection efforts through its advisories, interventions, and consultation with government authorities and its core group of experts on the environment, he said.

It has issued an advisory to the Centre, states, UTs to prevent, minimise and mitigate impacts of environmental pollution and degradation on human tights. It is also hearing the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change and the chief secretaries of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and Delhi, besides other states on the reported high air pollution impacting life expectancy in the country, and on ways to reduce various types of pollution to ensure safe health and ambient atmosphere for the existence of the human, justice Mishra said.

“To achieve this, we must adopt a comprehensive approach, including more importantly protecting our flora and fauna and forest reserves by strengthening the same with massive tree plantation as a citizen-centric movement. We need to promote sustainable production, consumption, and waste management practices,” he said.

Governments, civil society organisations, and businesses must collaborate to reduce plastic production, promote eco-friendly alternatives, and improve recycling and waste management infrastructure, he said, adding “we must effectively use corporate social responsibility under Section 135 of the Companies Act to protect the environment”.

“At the same time, we must empower individuals and communities to make informed choices and take action,” the NHRC chief asserted.

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Education and awareness programmes can equip people with the knowledge and skills to reduce their plastic footprint and promote its alternatives. By fostering a sense of responsibility and encouraging sustainable behaviour, “we can create a ripple effect that transcends borders and inspires global change,” he added.

“Together, we can strive for sustainable practices, advocate for more robust environmental protection and promote equitable access to resources for present and future generations,” the NHRC chairperson said.

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