Ecojustice report gives city tools to create right to a healthy environment

VANCOUVER – A new report by Ecojustice is calling on mayors across BC to lead at a local level and recognize residents’ rights to a healthy environment.

Restoring the Balance: Recognizing Environmental Rights in British Columbia, provides a toolkit for governments and citizens alike which outlines how these crucial rights can be established. The report examines the growing global phenomena of recognizing environmental rights, and highlights the recent trend towards municipal declarations of environmental rights.

“In San Francisco every resident has an equal right to a healthy and safe environment.This right requires that local air, water, and food be of a sufficiently high standard that individuals and communities can live in healthy, fulfilling and dignified lives,” said Ecojustice Lawyer Margot Venton, who authored the report. “Environmental rights should be enjoyed by people no matter where they live. As San Francisco’s example shows, local governments don’t have to wait for federal or provincial governments to act to protect the health of their residents.”

The report has been sent to 188 mayors in British Columbia, including Vancouver mayor Gregor Robertson, who recently launched a strategy to make Vancouver the world’s greenest city by 2020.

In 2005 Vancouver became one of 107 cities from around the world that pledged to recognize the right of all members of society to a “clean, healthy, and safe” environment by signing the Urban Environmental Accord. Vancouver’s renewed this commitment as part of its Bright Green Future Initiative.

“We hope that the city of Vancouver will continue to set an example for other BC communities to follow by fulfilling these promises to recognize environmental rights, and adopting a declaration of environmental rights. This is a chance for Vancouver to lead on the municipal front by showing that a healthy environment is not just a goal, it’s a right all residents deserve,” said Venton.