Project Outline: The Right to a Healthy Environment in Ireland - A Contribution

This summer, I will research the right to a healthy environment through comparative constitutional analysis of both South Africa and other European jurisdictions. The aim is to investigate the nature and shape of the right, and how it can be used by individuals to fight climate change.

The Right to a Healthy Environment: A Contribution

Supervised by: Dr David Kenny, Constitutional Law, Trinity College Dublin. 

This project has the goal of contributing to the ongoing discussion in Ireland on the necessity, shape and form of the right to a healthy environment. I chose this topic because as the climate has degraded to such a degree following the actions of governments and corporations alike, ordinary citizens should have legal recourse whereby they may state their rights and receive remedies for the damage caused. 

The project will have three focus areas: primarily, I will look at the status of the right in Ireland presently. This will involve detailed case analysis of The Friends of the Irish Environment v An Bord Pleanola. Secondly, I will compare with the wealth of caselaw from the South African jurisdiction, which has a proud tradition of individuals relying on the right to a healthy environment to protect the natural environment - most recently in the Sustaining the Wild Coast NPC and Others v Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy and Others case. Finally, other European jurisdictions such as the Netherlands, will be taken into account in order to focus the research onto a European dimension. 

The objective of the project is not to provide an exhaustive account, but rather a thoughtful contribution to the discussion, with room for improvement and further direction. Furthermore, I will use comparative analysis of South African caselaw to ascertain the nature and capabilities of the right, as well as academic commentary to investigate the environmental obligations Ireland may face in light of this recognition. 

I have linked below an interesting article from the UN on the definition of the right to a healthy environment, as well as another article on Fiji and women's struggle for climate justice:

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