The Right to a Healthy Environment

Revitalizing Canada's Constitution

David R. Boyd

  • Published: 2012. Paperback 2013
  • Subject Listing: Environmental Studies
  • Bibliographic information: 256 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: US rights only
  • Distributed for: UBC Press
  • Contents

Canada has abundant natural wealth, beautiful landscapes, vast forests, and thousands of rivers and lakes. The land defines Canadians as a people, yet the country has one of the industrialized world's worst environmental records. Building on his previous book, The Environmental Rights Revolution, David R. Boyd describes how recognizing the constitutional right to a healthy environment could have a transformative impact by empowering citizens, holding governments and industry accountable, and improving Canada's green record. This important and provocative book provides a road map to protect human health, the well-being of the planet, and the interests of future generations.
Dr. David R. Boyd is one of Canada's leadingexperts in environmental law and policy and an adjunct professor in theSchool of Resource and Environmental Management at Simon FraserUniversity. He has advised the governments of Canada, Sweden, andIceland on environmental and constitutional issues and is the co-chairof Vancouver's Greenest City Action Team along with Mayor GregorRobertson. He is a member of the IUCN's Commission onEnvironmental Law, the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights andthe Environment, the Forum for Leadership on Water, and theEnvironmental Law Alliance Worldwide (ELAW).David Boyd is the author of several bestselling and award-winningbooks as well as more than a hundred publications related toenvironmental law and policy, including Unnatural Law:Rethinking Canadian Environmental Law and Policy. His currentresearch focuses on the effects of enshrining environmental rights andresponsibilities in national constitutions

"A must read! This book is fascinating, extremely well documented, and makes a persuasive case for constitutional recognition of the right to a healthy environment in Canada. Boyd's clear writing style makes the book accessible and enriching for everyone, whether or not they have a legal or environmental background."
-The Honourable Claire L'Heureux-Dubé, retired justice of the Supreme Court of Canada

"David Boyd doesn't just talk about a paradigm shift, he shows us a path to get there. This book will be important to environmentalists, legal scholars, and policy makers, and to everyone who cares about moving from rhetoric to action on climate and the environment. It is also inspiring and a very good read."
-Dr. Alex Himelfarb, Director of the Glendon School of Public and International Affairs, York University, and former Clerk of the Privy Council (2002-06)

"David Boyd helped Vancouver develop our bold plan for becoming the greenest city in the world, and with this authoritative and inspiring book he identifies a prerequisite for making Canada the greenest country. We owe it to ourselves, our children, and future generations to include the right to a healthy environment in the Canadian constitution."
-Gregor Robertson, Mayor of Vancouver, co-founder of Happy Planet

"David Boyd is one of the world's leading experts on human rights and the environment. From the comprehensive prescription in his book Unnatural Law to the visionary blueprint Sustainability Within a Generation and now this book on the constitutional right to a healthy environment, he keeps producing compelling solutions for Canada's environmental woes. Given that humans are wholly dependent on ecosystems to provide air, water, food, and essential services such as pollination, it is simply common sense to include environmental rights and responsibilities in our highest law. As Boyd concludes, if over 100 other countries can do this, why can't we?"
-David Suzuki, award-winning scientist, broadcaster, environmentalist

"Fantastic and timely! With the Harper Government's dismantling of environmental protection and abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol, David Boyd's book could not come at a more critical time. If environmental rights were safeguarded in our constitution, Canada's natural world would be less open to the political whims and ideologies of changing governments. This is a very important book that points the way to an environmentally secure future."
-Maude Barlow, Chairperson of the Council of Canadians


1 Canada Needs Constitutional Environmental Rights

2 The Pros and Cons of the Right to a Healthy Environment

3 The History of Environmental Rights in Canada

4 Green Constitutions in Other Countries

5 Lessons Learned: Implementing Environmental Rights andResponsibilities

6 International Law and Environmental Rights

7 What Difference Would the Right to a Healthy Environment Make inCanada?

8 Pathways for Greening Canada's Constitution

9 Prospects for Change