Environmental Rights

Environmental rights are central to Albertans’ quality of life, environmental justice and better decision making.

 

With your support, we will develop environmental rights that will serve Alberta today and well into the future.

 

Alberta is no stranger to environmental rights.  An Environmental Bill of Rights was introduced as far back as 1978 (and 1979) and again in 1990 (and 1992).  While these Bills were not passed, Alberta has integrated some environmental rights into other statutes, such as the Environmental Protection and Enhancement Act, the Water Act and the Responsible Energy Development Act but more recognition of environmental rights is required in our laws.

 

Several aspects of Alberta’s laws require an environmental rights makeover.   Alberta needs:

 

  • Expansion of public/ Albertans’ rights to participate in decisions about laws, regulations, policies and authorizations,
  • Effective third party oversight of the government implementation of its statutory duties (while the Alberta Auditor General provides some oversight,  it has an overly broad mandate with minimal resources),
  • Comprehensive whistle blower protection, and
  • Public rights to seek compliance and enforcement with legislation.

 

David Boyd, author of The Right to a Healthy Environment: Revitalizing Canada’s Constitution and Cleaner, Greener, Healthier: a Prescription for Stronger Canadian Environmental Laws and Policies has suggested a constitutional right to a healthy environment as:

 

Everyone has the right to live in a healthy and ecologically balanced environment, including clean air, safe water, fertile soil, nutritious food, a stable climate and flourishing biodiversity.

 

Boyd further proposes framing the right around key environmental law principles such as the precautionary principle, polluter pays, and intergenerational equity.

 

The ELC is conducting an assessment of existing environmental rights in the province to identify gaps in rights protection and to design a road map to a future which values these rights.  You can expect much more on this topic as we seek to engage Albertans in this important endeavour.

 

Your support allows us to examine existing environmental rights in other jurisdictions to propose the most effective options to implement and give a voice to those who want to lend a hand in preserving this legacy.

 

Together with your support, let’s develop powerful and effective environmental rights for Alberta.

 

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Related Publications for Download:

Environmental Rights Module 4: Access to Environmental Information

Environmental Rights Module 3: Citizen Enforcement

Environmental Rights Module 2: Third Party Oversight

Environmental Rights Module 1: Substantive Environmental Rights

Environmental Rights. Phase 1: Do we have the rights we need?