Environmental groups have welcomed the recommendation to include the human right to a healthy environment in Scots law [1]. The Scottish Government’s National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership published detailed proposals for a new human rights law today and recommend that the new law is brought forward by the new Parliament.

Emilia Hanna, Advocacy Officer for the Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland said:

“Everyone in Scotland deserves to live in a safe, clean, and healthy environment, so it is very welcome news that the Scottish Government’s advisers have recommended that this fundamental human right is enshrined in our laws.

“We call on the new Scottish Parliament to table the Human Rights law this year and are confident that all parties can come together to support this. A human right to a healthy environment is a positive way to tackle the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and the climate crisis.”

Mary Church, Head of Campaigns, Friends of the Earth Scotland said:

“The global repercussions and unequal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic underscore the fact that the right to a healthy and safe environment is essential to all other human rights. As we face the unprecedented challenges of climate and nature emergency against a backdrop of growing inequality it is more important than ever that our response is underpinned by robust protection of human rights.

“The Taskforce’s recommendations are both timely and welcome and we urge Parties to work together to bring forward this vital legislation in the first weeks of the new parliamentary session.”

Dr. Deborah Long, Chief Officer of Scottish Environment LINK, said:

“The National Taskforce’s recommendation is a very welcome and important step forward. However, we have a lot to do if both the substantial and procedural elements of our human right to a healthy environment are to be effective and fulfilled in Scotland.  In delivering on this right, the Scottish Government needs to take significant and direction changing steps on protecting and restoring Scotland’s nature to fulfil this generation’s and protect future generation’s right to a healthy environment by tackling the global nature and climate crises.”

Amid a nature and climate crisis, and with 76% of Scots becoming more aware of nature’s importance during lockdown [2], environmental organisations stress the paramount importance of introducing a human right to a healthy environment.

LINK members believe the introduction of a human right to a healthy environment offers new opportunities to support citizens demanding improvements to their local environment and urging politicians to take action on the climate and nature crisis.


[1] National Taskforce for Human Rights Leadership Report was published on 12 March 2021: https://www.gov.scot/binaries/content/documents/govscot/publications/independent-report/2021/03/national-taskforce-human-rights-leadership-report/documents/national-taskforce-human-rights-leadership-report/national-taskforce-human-rights-leadership-report/govscot%3Adocument/national-taskforce-human-rights-leadership-report.pdf

[2] Scottish Environment LINK Poll, Aug 2020: ‘Most people living in Scotland want a green recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic’

[3] Link to Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland’s Blog on why we need a Human Right to a Healthy Environment, Feb 2021:

[4] Link to Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland & Scottish Environment LINK Briefing on a Human Right to a Healthy Environment, Feb 2021:

[5] The Environmental Rights Centre for Scotland (ERCS) exists to assist members of the public and civil society to understand and exercise their rights in environmental law and to protect the environment: www.ercs.scot

[6] Friends of the Earth Scotland is:

* Scotland’s leading environmental campaigning organisation

* An independent Scottish charity with a network of thousands of supporters and active local groups across Scotland

* Part of the largest grassroots environmental network in the world, uniting over 2 million supporters, 75 national member groups, and 5,000 local activist groups.: www.foe.scot

[7] Scottish Environment LINK is the forum for Scotland’s voluntary environment community, with 40 member bodies representing a broad spectrum of environmental interests with the common goal of contributing to a more environmentally sustainable society: https://www.scotlink.org/