Overlooking Human Dignity in Environmental Outcomes

Environmental outcomes and human dignity – that is, the recognition that every human being has equal worth that is inherent and inalienable – are inexorably linked. Adverse environmental conditions can adversely affect realization of the spectrum of civil, political, and socioeconomic rights that advance human dignity. Lack of access to potable water, for example, diminishes the ability to work or learn, care for family, or participate in governance.
International law has danced with environmental dignity, but only episodically and perfunctorily without much benefit to either the environment or those adversely affected by it. Yet these accords haven't managed to make a difference. Most progress at the junction of dignity and the environmental has been jurisprudential. Instead of languishing somewhere offstage, I argue that human dignity ought to play a more prominent role in influencing environmental policy and outcomes internationally, regionally and domestically.