World needs to focus on ‘right to healthy environment, climate justice’: Kovind

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Speaking on the occasion of the annual Human Rights Day, President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday underlined the fight against the climate crisis, saying it’s important for all of us to secure our “right to a healthy environment and climate justice”.

The president, while addressing a gathering at an event organised by the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), warned that degradation of nature is leading to changes in the climate that are irreversible.

“On this day, the world should also debate and discuss the right to a healthy environment and climate justice,” Kovind said. “The degradation of nature is leading to irreversible changes in climate, and we are already witnessing its harmful impact. The world is waking up to the harsh reality, but it is yet to build the resolve to make decisive change.”

Kovind said it is necessary to protect nature from the “worst effects of industrialisation” in order to make the world a better place for future generations.

“Time is running out. I am glad that India has taken initiatives at home as well as at the recently held global climate conference [in Glasgow], which will go a long way in restoring the health of the planet. Especially commendable is India’s leadership in the International Solar Alliance and a series of measures to promote green energy,” he said.

The president said the Human Rights Day is the ideal occasion for us to come together and find ways to overcome “prejudices” hindering humanity’s progress.

Also Read: Kovind pays tribute to Shivaji Maharaj at Raigad Fort

“While non-discrimination is the first condition for absolute respect for human dignity, the world is beset with countless prejudices. They, unfortunately, hinder the full realisation of individuals’ potential, and thus, are not in the interest of society as a whole. The Human Rights Day is the ideal occasion for us to ponder collectively and find ways to overcome such prejudices,” he said.

Pointing to the impact of Covid-19, Kovind said that the pandemic has had a “disproportionately devastating impact on vulnerable sections of society”.

“India, despite the obvious challenges, has been able to save millions of lives by adopting a policy of free and universal availability of [Covid-19] vaccines. With the biggest vaccination exercise in history, the government has been able to provide protection against the virus to nearly a billion people. I congratulate doctors, scientists and all other ‘corona warriors’ for their heroic efforts to uphold the people’s right to life and right to health,” he said.

Kovind appreciated the NHRC for its efforts during the pandemic, underlining its “deep concern for the rights of the vulnerable and marginalised sections of society affected by the pandemic”.

The theme of this year’s Human Rights Day is “equality”. Justice Arun Mishra, chairperson of the NHRC, said, “Equality is the essence of human rights. It requires upholding of justice and dignity in every wake of life.”

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