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Daily-current-affairs / 24 Apr 2024

Restoring Earth’s Right to 'Good Health' : Daily News Analysis



The issue of climate change has evolved beyond mere environmental concern; it now represents a critical human rights crisis, as recent judicial decisions and global climate reports have underscored. This intersection of climate and human rights is a key turning point in global discourse and policy. It compels nations like India to take decisive action, integrating a rights-based approach into climate governance to safeguard the health and future of both the planet and its inhabitants.

Judicial Mandates for Climate Justice

In a groundbreaking ruling, the European Court of Human Rights found the Swiss government culpable of violating the rights of elderly women from KlimaSeniorinnen, highlighting the inadequacies in emissions reduction efforts. This verdict marked a pivotal moment, recognizing the climate crisis as a human rights emergency with tangible impacts on vulnerable communities.

Similarly, India's Supreme Court affirmed citizens' entitlement "to be free from the adverse impacts of climate change," invoking constitutional articles on equality and the right to life. These legal pronouncements herald a new era, positioning climate action as a duty under fundamental rights, thereby holding governments accountable for mitigating climate risks and ensuring environmental justice.

Climate Crisis: A Threat to Human Health

The latest State of the Global Climate Report by the World Meteorological Organization has issued a stark warning: 2023 was the hottest year on record, with unprecedented rises in ocean heat, sea levels, and glacial retreat. This perilous trend reflects the planet's distress, directly jeopardizing the right to a healthy life for millions.

India, amidst rapid economic growth, faces mounting climate vulnerabilities, with over 80% of its population residing in disaster-prone regions. Rising temperatures and extreme weather events exacerbate socio-economic disparities, jeopardizing livelihoods and food security. The implications extend far beyond environmental concerns, impacting fundamental human rights.

Strengthening Legal Frameworks for Climate Action

To address these challenges, India must harness legal instruments to propel climate action. An overarching regulation dedicated to climate change, building on existing policies like National and State Action Plans, could enhance governance and resource allocation. Comparative studies highlight the effectiveness of such laws, fostering strategic national policies that transcend international targets.

While India boasts several climate-related statutes, a comprehensive framework law could bolster institutional frameworks, promote accountability, and facilitate knowledge exchange between vulnerable states and territories. By embracing lessons from global peers, India can fortify its climate governance, navigating complex challenges with strategic clarity.

Localized Approaches for Sustainable Development

India's success in localizing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offers a promising blueprint for climate action. Through decentralized planning and stakeholder engagement, states and territories have tailored SDG roadmaps, fostering competition and innovation. This participatory model underscores the importance of multi-sectoral collaboration, empowering local governments and catalyzing collective progress.

Inter-Sectoral Collaboration: The One Health Paradigm

Inter-ministerial cooperation is essential for holistic climate governance. Initiatives like One Health, uniting ministries in health, environment, and research, exemplify integrated approaches to disease control and pandemic preparedness. Extending this paradigm to the private sector is critical, ensuring human rights-compliant supply chains and promoting circular economy practices.

By integrating rights-based principles into core operations, businesses can drive transformative change, aligning economic interests with environmental stewardship. This collaborative ethos holds the key to resilient, inclusive climate action.

Empowering Civil Society: A Rights-Based Dialogue

Judicial directives should empower civil society, fostering a rights-based discourse on climate action and biodiversity conservation. Balancing competing priorities, such as wildlife preservation and renewable energy expansion, demands inclusive dialogues. Recent legal interventions advocate for holistic solutions, acknowledging citizens' entitlements amidst environmental imperatives.

Embracing the ethos of International Mother Earth Day, India can redefine its relationship with nature, treating it not merely as a resource but as a living entity deserving legal protection. The precedent set by courts, alongside civil society engagement, must propel urgent measures to restore Earth's health, safeguarding humanity's collective future.


In conclusion, the convergence of climate change and human rights demands a paradigm shift in governance and policy. India, as a burgeoning economy vulnerable to climate impacts, stands at a crossroads. By leveraging judicial mandates, strengthening legal frameworks, and fostering multi-sectoral collaboration, India can spearhead transformative climate action rooted in human rights principles. This proactive approach is not just a policy imperative; it's a moral imperative to ensure the well-being of present and future generations. As we commemorate International Mother Earth Day, let us heed the call to restore our planet's health and secure the fundamental rights of all living beings.

Probable Questions for UPSC Mains Exam-

1.      How have recent judicial decisions, such as those by the European Court of Human Rights and India's Supreme Court, elevated climate change from an environmental issue to a human rights crisis? How can these legal mandates reshape climate governance in countries like India? (10 Marks, 150 Words)

2.      What role do localized approaches, such as the integration of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into local planning and stakeholder engagement, play in enhancing climate resilience and fostering inclusive climate action? How can decentralized strategies empower local governments and communities to address climate vulnerabilities effectively? (15 Marks, 250 Words)

Source- The Hindu