in: Markus Kaltenborn / Markus Krajewski / Heike Kuhn (eds.), Sustainable development goals and human rights, Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature, 191-206 (Open Access)
The conceptual and legal relationship between human rights, human development and environmental protection is not a straightforward one. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Climate Agreement adopted in 2015 link improvements in human development to human rights and to mitigating global changes in climate and the environment. The UN Declaration on the Right to Development (UNDRTD) adopted in 1986, however, does not include any explicit obligation to protect the natural environment, and to contribute to the provision of global environmental goods. The article explains how global environmental change is defined, how it is linked with human development and how it manifests itself. Then, the article takes a closer look at the UNDRTD and how it could be linked with global environmental change. Finally, the article proposes two concepts that could help to situate the UNDRTD within the challenges of the twenty-first century as exemplified in the 2030 Agenda. First, humanity should be introduced as a third category of right-holders (in addition to individuals and groups). This would include future generations more explicitly than now and put the relationships between species or life-forms as interdependent parts of the web of life into focus. Second, therefore, the rights of life forms should be established to transcend the conceptual boundaries of human rights and develop norms that govern the interdependencies between humans as well as plants and animals in the broadest sense.