WWF-backed coalition wins UN Human Rights Prize

Posted on 07 August 2023

UN prize awarded to the coalition of civil society groups that successfully called for the global right to a healthy environment.

Campaigning by a coalition of hundreds of civil society groups, including WWF, finally paid off last July when 193 UN member states recognized the universal right to a healthy environment at the UN General Assembly.

The prestigious 2023 United Nations Human Rights Prize has now been awarded to the coalition in recognition of their efforts, including gathering 1,350 endorsements from 75 countries and sharing over 30,300 online messages calling for a #HealthyEnvironmentForAll.

The right to a clean, healthy, sustainable environment fills a longstanding gap in the international human rights framework. It also has potentially wide-ranging positive impacts on nature as it includes rights to clean air, a safe climate, healthy and sustainable food, safe water and adequate sanitation, non-toxic environments and healthy ecosystems.

The resolution is not legally binding on UN member states. But we are hopeful it will have a trickle-down effect, prompting countries to enshrine the right to a healthy environment in national constitutions and regional treaties, and encouraging states to implement those laws. 

Elaine Geyer-Allély, Interim Leader of WWF’s Global Governance Practice, said: “Together, we must now push for further constitutional and statutory recognition of the right so that it delivers tangible benefits for people and the planet."


The award is also important in highlighting the power of collective efforts and the importance of civil society − the actions of individuals and non-governmental, voluntary and community organizations − in shaping a fairer, greener future. 

We are extremely concerned about the current threats to freedom of expression around the world, which are preventing many individuals and groups from taking part in decision-making about issues that matter to them.

People everywhere must be able to have their say, and we remain particularly concerned about the environmental and human rights defenders who are persecuted worldwide.