MEDIA RELEASE: Our Rights and Liveable World – Reasons For Hope

Our Rights and a Liveable World – Reasons For Hope


(Canada): This week is Canadian Environment Week. It coincides with the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day on June 5. World Environment Day was set up to pay homage to what is considered the world’s first environmental summit, the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, Sweden.

Even before summer has started, forest fires are raging across Canada. The scorched area is more than 10 times the average area typically burned by this time of year. We are undeniably deep in the climate emergency. It is thus imperative that we know our history, and our rights and build a liveable world for ourselves and future generations.

On 10 December 1948, in the aftermath of World War II, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) adopted the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights. John Humphrey, a Canadian lawyer, and scholar, played a significant role in writing the Declaration.

Have hope because rebirth often follows decimation and much has happened since the UN Declaration of Human Rights almost 75 years ago.

Today, human rights are embedded into many countries’ national laws. Internationally,  there are the UN Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People, the UN Rights of the ChildCultural Rights, rights embedded into the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the UN Right to a Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment (July 2022)  and Women’s and Indigenous’ rights embedded into the landmark UN Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework in December 2022.

In Canada, our national identity is shaped by the principles enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Now there is more to hope. After many years of tireless advocacy and hard work by the Blue Dot movement, Bill S-5 was passed into law last week, enshrining all of our rights to a healthy environment under Canadian law by modernizing the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

On Friday, June 2, 2023, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Canada put together a special online event with a stellar line-up of guests. People will have reasons to hope after they listen to “Our Rights and a Liveable World.” 

Dr. David Boyd, the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, highlighted the inextricable link between human rights and environmental well-being, globally. He laid out some very stark statistics – including the fact that the planet could cross the 1.5C threshold by 2027. Dr. Boyd is a climate optimist, and he drove home the message of how human rights laws are being used globally successfully, and that there is no longer any need for fossil fuels to be used for electricity

Andrew Gage, the climate change lead at West Coast Environmental Law introduced us to Sue Big Oil. Sue Big Oil in British Columbia calls on local governments to hold major oil companies accountable for their role in climate change and join together in a class action lawsuit. It seeks to seek compensation for damages caused by their activities, highlighting their alleged knowledge and deceptive practices.

Kaitlyn Harvey, Sabrina Dykstra, Dr. David Maenz, and Climate Justice Saskatoon have taken a courageous stand by filing a lawsuit against SaskPower, Crown Investments, and the Saskatchewan Government. These brave individuals, including 15-year-old applicant Sabrina Dykstra, exemplify the determination to protect our rights and build a sustainable future.

Lawyer Danielle Gallant and plaintiffs Alex Neufeldt and Sophia Mathur, from the Ecojustice lawsuit filed in November 2019, shed light on the need to hold the Ontario government accountable for its actions or inaction on climate change via the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The quest for a liveable world and the protection of our rights require collective efforts. The work of individuals such as Dr. David Boyd, Andrew Gage, Dr. David Maenz, Kaitlyn Harvey, Sabrina Dykstra, Danielle Gallant, Alex Neufeldt, and Sophia Mathur gives us all reason to hope and serve as an inspiration and a call to action.

As Canadians, we must continue to advocate for stronger environmental protections. We can all do this on Friday, September 15. It is the Fridays For Future Global Day of Action. This global event coincides with the annual United Nations General Assembly.


Media Contact: Cathy Orlando, National Director, Citizens Climate Lobby Canada, 705 929 4043