Weak enforcement of laws worsening environmental crisis: UN

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Nairobi, Jan 24 (IANS) Environmental threats like climate change and pollution are linked to lethargic enforcement of laws governing management of vital ecosystems, says a report released on Thursday by UN Environment.

According to the first ever global assessment of environmental rule of law, the quest to maintain a healthy and clean planet was being undermined by weak enforcement of legislation to protect it from natural and human-induced threats.

“This report solves the mystery of why problems such as pollution, declining biodiversity and climate change persist despite the proliferation of environmental laws in recent decades,” said David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment.

“Unless the environmental rule of law is strengthened, even seemingly rigorous rules are destined to fail and the fundamental human right to a healthy environment will go unfulfilled,” he was cited as saying by Xinhua news agency.

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The UN Environment report said that rapid development of environmental laws and treaties since 1972 had not translated into their enactment thus escalating threats to ecosystems that sustain livelihoods.

It said more than 1,100 environmental treaties and legal frameworks had been developed by national governments since 1972 when the UN environment agency was formed.

At the same time, donor support and robust domestic funding to facilitate development of new environmental laws had been consistent in the last four decades, but it had not been matched with their enforcement, said the report.

It noted that poor coordination among government agencies, weak institutional capacity, lack of access to information, corruption and limited civic engagement contributed to weak enforcement of environmental rule of laws.

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“We have the machinery in the form of laws, regulations and agencies to govern our environment sustainably,” said Joyce Msuya, UN Environment Acting Executive Director.

“Political will is now critical to making sure our laws work for the planet. This first global assessment on environmental rule of law highlights the work those standing on the right side of history-and how many nations are stronger and safer as a result,” she added.

The report revealed that 88 countries had adopted the constitutional right to a healthy environment while an additional 65 had enshrined environmental protection in their constitutions.

Likewise, over 350 environmental courts and tribunals had been established in more than 50 countries while over 60 countries had some legal provisions for citizen’s right to environmental information.

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Experts urged governments to address hiccups that had undermined enforcement of legislation that promote environmental governance.

–IANS

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