Joint Statement of Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and Ombudsman for Future Generations on World Environment Day
In their joint statement on World Environment Day, Commissioner for Fundamental Rights Dr Ákos Kozma and Deputy Commissioner, Ombudsman for Future Generations Dr Gyula Bándi call our attention to our responsibility for our ecosystems and remind the state institutions, as well as all the members and groups of society to protect them.
The World Environment Day is celebrated on 5 June, in commemoration of the starting day of the first global UN conference organised on the protection of the environment in 1972. This is the UN’s most important world day on this topic, whose goal is to draw global attention to our responsibility for our environment, and to encourage joint action for its protection, based on specific objectives.
The event focuses on a specific topic each year. The central theme of this year has been the restoration of habitats, as well as the reconsideration of our relations with nature. The 2021 World Day at the same time marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.
The IPBES global report on biological diversity and ecosystem services, presenting the outcomes of the most comprehensive survey of all times on this topic, depicts a tragic picture of the condition of the natural environment, which is the basis of our existence, as well as of that of the services provided by nature. The quality of the natural environment that provides ecosystem functions and services is deteriorating globally, jeopardising its capacity to contribute to human well-being. According to the study, approximately one million animal and plant species have come to the verge of extinction by now: “The territories or amounts of ecosystems, species, wild populations, local breeds and domesticated plant and animal species are decreasing, their condition is declining, or they even disappear entirely. The close-knit basic network of terrestrial life is becoming smaller and is dying at an increasingly high speed… This destruction is the direct consequence of human activity and it seriously endangers human well-being in all regions of the world.”
According to the report published in 2019, substantial changes will become necessary for the restoration and preservation of nature. The message is clear: the interests of the beneficiaries of the currently deteriorating situation cannot override public interests.
In Hungary, the progress reports issued in relation to the National Framework Strategy on Sustainable Development every two years give an account of the condition of the ecosystems in Hungary as well. The latest report said that 87 percent of the ecosystems in Hungary were in an unfavourable condition, which shows considerable deterioration. The past few years have seen the most intensive development of physical capital with a high material and area need, in a European comparison, and we also came first in increasing the artificial coverage of surface between 2012 and 2015, as is shown by the latest figures available at the time of the issuance of the report. The disappearance of habitats in Hungary is of a significant extent and long-term, just like the deterioration of their condition, and the degradation of landscapes, as a consequence of which the capacity of the ecosystems to provide services is decreasing.
The report suggests that the protection of natural habitats is an urgent task, which should be made a primary criterion in the selection of investments, limiting green field investments. In its proposal on the protection of our natural heritage and the sustainable use of natural resources, the National Council for Sustainable Development indicated that immediate and meaningful changes and a sustainability turn will become necessary in order to be able to protect our natural values, the common heritage of the nation, and to ensure that the loss of the services provided by the ecosystems does not jeopardize the possibility of creating a good life in both the short- and the long-term.
As is also stipulated by the Fundamental Law of Hungary, the members of the present generation, among others, undertake to protect and cherish the natural and man-made values of the Carpathian Basin and by taking responsibility for their descendants, to safeguard the life conditions of the succeeding generations by the careful use of the material, intellectual and natural resources. In view of all this, the Commissioner for Fundamental Rights and his deputy repeatedly draw our attention to that, pursuant to Article P) of the Fundamental Law of Hungary: the responsibility to protect and preserve biodiversity for future generations lies with the State and each and every individual.