By Roubina Bassous/Ghattas

The concept of environment as a basic human right encompasses a respect for the right of other species to survive on the planet. Each of the 5 to 50 million species of plants, animals, and microorganisms sharing the earth has a value of its own and a role to play in a vast, complex web of interdependent connections. This range of species, their habitats, and the internal genetic diversity they display is known as biodiversity. Biodiversity has numerous uses in agriculture, medicine, food, and industry. Its loss, therefore, is part of the erosion of environmental human rights. The conservation of biodiversity and natural resources affects, and is in turn affected by, the realisation of human rights. Conservation can help realise substantive human rights, such as the right to health, culture, and food. Likewise, the realisation of human rights can create an enabling environment for achieving conservation objectives.

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