Sam Bookman: Global momentum is building for a right to a safe environment. Why is NZ missing?

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Writing in The Spinoff, former New Zealand lawyer and current doctoral student Sam Bookman argues:

A campaign is moving the United Nations toward recognising a right to a safe environment. Dozens of countries are on-board. Why isn’t New Zealand part of it, asks Sam Bookman.

The world is facing multiple environmental crises. Hundreds of animal and plant species are threatened with extinction; deforestation in many parts of the planet continues at an alarming rate; and climate change poses an existential threat to human survival. As a species, human beings have exceeded four of the world’s nine planetary boundaries

Confronting crises of this scale requires action on multiple fronts. But fighting to protect the environment can be difficult and dangerous. In 2019 alone, more than 200 people across the world were killed for their defending their environments. Many of those killed are poor or indigenous activists in the Global South, fighting against land-grabbing and extractive industries. In 2016 one of the world’s best-known environmental defenders, the Honduran activist Berta Cáceres, was gunned down in her home on the orders of company executives, in retaliation for rallying her community against the damming of a sacred river. Many of those responsible have still not been held to account.

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