Global Coalition on the Human Right to a Healthy Environment, of which the Hub is part, honoured with the 2023 UN Human Rights Prize  

The Global Coalition of over 1350 civil society organisations, Indigenous peoples, social movements and local communities for the universal recognition of everyone’s human right to a healthy environment, of which the One Ocean Hub is part, has been awarded the United Nations Human Rights Prize 2023. The UN Human Rights Prize is a  prize awarded only every five years, and is based on a UN General Assembly resolution. It is the first time ever, that this prize is given to a global partnership. The Prize will be bestowed in New York on 10 December 2023, which also marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. 

The Coalition 

The Coalition comprises members from 75 countries across the world. Established in 2020, the Coalition has been instrumental in the international recognition of everyone’s human right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment by the Human Rights Council in October 2021 (A/HRC/RES/48/13) and by the UN General Assembly in July 2022 (A/RES/76/300).  

The Coalition relies on multi-dimensional, intersectional, regional, global, and coordinated approaches which support and protect the rights and promote the participation of all persons, starting with those most impacted by the accelerating triple planetary crisis (the climate emergency, the collapse of biodiversity and ecosystems, and increasing toxic threats) that are threatening our very existence and exacerbating systemic inequalities. The Coalition continues to work alongside States, UN agencies, current and former UN Special Rapporteurs, as well as other allies, to advocate for the full implementation of this universal human right. 

The significance of the UN Human Rights Prize  

Currently, millions of peoples continue to be impacted by marine pollution, declining fish stocks, climate change impacts, and other pressures that negatively affect the ocean and ocean-dependent communities. The Prize creates momentum for States, businesses, international and regional organisations, and people around the world to increase their efforts towards the effective protection and full realization of everyone’s human right to a healthy environment.  

The Prize also provides a great opportunity to highlight the Coalition’ key messages, which are also at the heart of the One Ocean Hub’s research: 

  • The Prize sends a strong reminder that many environmental human rights defenders are under attack worldwide. The Hub is working closely with our partners including the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to acknowledge the contributions and enhance the protection of ocean defenders (Indigenous Peoples, local communities, small-scale fishers, women and children) as environmental human rights defenders.  

The One Ocean Hub’s contribution 

The Prize is both an impressive recognition of the power of the Global Coalition and an important acknowledgement of the timeliness, relevance and impact of the Hub’s research and engagement in this area. In particular, the Hub contributes to the Coalition by drawing attention to the links between human rights and a healthy ocean, that are often overlooked in policy and law-making fora at national and international levels.  

Professor Elisa Morgera, Director of the One Ocean Hub, said: “It is heartening and inspiring to see the hard work of this global partnerships of human rights holders, researchers and advocates recognised by the UN, at a time when the protection of human rights and the environment faces increasing challenges and requires everyone’s contribution.”  

On the whole, the award reflects the One Ocean Hub’s ongoing research contributions on the crucial importance of healthy biodiversity and a healthy ocean for everyone’s human right to a healthy environment and a safe climate, which we continue to share with the UN Development Programme, UN Environmental Management Group, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, and the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, among others. 

Photo: Courtesy of Center for International Environmental Law

Related SDGs:

  • Good health and well-being
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Climate action
  • Life below water