UN must rethink its approach to environmental problems, 2020 winner in World Order

The United Nations can tackle global environmental challenges far more effectively by incorporating two overlooked parts of its mandate—human rights and peace—into its efforts.

So says Ken Conca, an American University international relations professor who has won the 2020 University of Louisville Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order for the ideas set forth his book “An Unfinished Foundation: The United Nations and Global Environmental Governance.”

The U.N. has addressed environmental issues using legal and sustainable development approaches but also needs to pursue strategies linked to its role as a protector of human rights and peace, Conca says.

The organization should declare a safe and healthy environment to be a basic human right, give its Security Council a well-defined role in safeguarding the environment, make sure its environmental initiatives are conflict-sensitive and seek environmental peacebuilding opportunities, he argues.

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