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The duty to protect the environment

The protection of the environment implies rights but also duties. The duty to take care of the environment means that everyone should contribute, at their own level, to the conservation, protection, and restoration of the integrity of the Earth's ecosystem.


This duty applies to States and non-state actors, including companies and individuals. The extent and content of this obligation will depend on the entity involved - each entity should do its share in accordance with its ability.


We all have a role in keeping the Earth healthy and thriving. As individuals, we must watch our environmental impact and do our utmost to preserve nature, ecosystems, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the lands we harness. Companies and other legal entities must also continuously assess the environmental impact of their activities and avert any damage to the environment.


This principle has been recognized on several occasions. For example, the 1972 Stockholm Declaration references the duty to take care of the environment in its Principle 2 stating that natural resources “must be safeguarded for the benefit of present and future generations through careful planning or management, as appropriate”.

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