‘Highly significant’ UN vote on right to a sustainable world

Published date: 29 July 2022

Landmark moment as global community commits to a ‘clean, healthy and sustainable environment’

GRI has celebrated the passing of a vote by the United Nations General Assembly (28 July), to recognize the ‘human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment’. This historic resolution was overwhelmingly supported by the 193-member world body.

The text includes a call for ‘states, international organizations, businesses and other relevant stakeholders to adopt policies, enhance international cooperation, strengthen capacity building, and share good practices to ensure a clean, healthy and sustainable environment for all’.

This highly significant resolution, explicitly backed by 161 countries, sets out that the right to a healthy environment should be universally recognized, protected and respected. Rewriting the rulebook for the environmental and human rights safeguards that nations and companies should strive for, we can expect it to be the catalyst for strengthened legislation and policies in the years to come. GRI’s Universal Standards, as revised in 2021, raise the bar for transparency on human rights and environmental due diligence. They are the first and only reporting standards to fully align with disclosure expectations in the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. As such, GRI has a key enabling role as the global community seeks to ensure that organizations are accountable for their human rights and environmental impacts.”

Eelco van der Enden, CEO of GRI

Countries will be expected to prioritize and accelerate actions to implement the resolution, supporting support efforts to address environmental crises in a more coordinated and effective way, including human rights impacts. The development follows a related resolution adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2021.

The updated GRI Universal Standards, launched in October 2021, are at the heart of all sustainability reporting through the GRI Standards. The revisions include that they are now fully aligned with reporting expectations as set by the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Business Conduct – alongside other authoritative international instruments.

Earlier this month, a GRI official side event at the UN High Level Political Forum called for an integrated approach that makes interconnections between environmental and human rights due diligence and the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals.