The right to have a choice to live sustainably: Insights for ECOLISE’s advocacy campaign from the CAMPAIGNERs project

In the recent session “The right to have a choice to live sustainably: Insights for ECOLISE’s advocacy campaign from the CAMPAIGNERs project” (watch the recording here), the focus was on the right to choose to live sustainably, organized as part of the Climate Campaigners Project. 


📢 Curious to know how to embed sustainable lifestyles into our systems and policies? Learn from decision-makers working from local, national and EU levels at our Climate CAMPAIGNers final conference on 13 March 2024! 🎙️ Secure your spot now!

The panellists included Nina Klein, Policy Lead from Ecolise, Francesca Mingrone from the Center for International Environmental Studies, Lisa Bitossi, CAMPAIGNers Communication Manager – City of Milan, and Abdul Otman, ECOLISE’s project leader for Climate Campaigners and Council member of Global Ecovillage Network Europe. 

Time for Collective Action

Our core theme highlights the second demand from our Time for Collective Action Manifesto: “The right to have a choice to live sustainably.” In line with the IPCC’s groundbreaking statement in 2022 that lifestyle changes could slash greenhouse gas emissions by up to 70%, this event aims to explore the systemic shifts required for individuals to make sustainable choices.

The Time for Collective Action seeks to inspire and empower participants to collectively contribute to environmental sustainability and engage in political action. To do that, ECOLISE has embarked on an advocacy campaign, targeting the European elections – a make-or-break moment for the European Green Deal, triggering conversations around the Manifesto’s core themes.

For people to be able to change their lifestyles, we need systemic changes to happen at the same time: in policies, technologies and infrastructures. The CAMPAIGNER project explored what exactly these systemic changes we need to have in place. Betting only on for decarbonated scenario for Climate neutrality in 2050 isn’t enough. And we have proven that lifestyle changes have a great amplifying effect on carbon footprint reduction.

Other key insights out of our 57 Lifestyle Challenges with 8 domains: community, consumption, cooling, diet, energy, heating, mobility, waste

  • Age is the most significant and impactful factor 
    • The older the citizens the less likely they are to behave in an environmentally friendly manner, except heating where geographical location matters (average temperature)
  • Geographical location matters
    • America & Africa – lower inclination toward engaging in Lifestyle Challenges (consumption, energy, diet) 
    • America – lowest success rate on mobility and cooling
    • Asia and Europe behave similarly
  • Educational background – no impact on environmentally friendly behaviour
  • Occupational status has a positive influence 

Time for legally binding policies

We also heard from experts such as the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), thanks to the participation of Francesca Mingrone. CIEL focuses on the intersection of climate change law and human rights law, operating from Geneva and collaborating with human rights institutions globally.

She highlighted their efforts to ensure climate actions align with human rights obligations. Francesca discussed the significance of the UN’s recognition of the right to a healthy environment in 2021 and its reaffirmation in 2022. She emphasized the importance of connecting environmental and human rights dimensions, especially at the Human Rights Council.

Francesca detailed the campaign leading to the acknowledgement of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. The UN resolution passed in 2021 and was later ratified by the General Assembly in 2022 which marked a crucial global recognition. She explained that while the resolution is not inherently binding, it serves as a powerful influencer, potentially shaping laws and policies at various levels.

The conversation delved into the impact of this recognition on activists. Francesca argued that acknowledging this right legitimizes the efforts of those fighting for environmental rights, providing them with legal standing and protection. The discussion also touched on the increasing criminalization of climate activists, highlighting the importance of international recognition to safeguard their rights.

Francesca emphasized the need for the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment to be implemented to truly catalyze change. She also introduced the Aarhus Convention on Environmental Democracy, a legally binding UN agreement requiring EU member states to promote public participation in environmental decision-making.

Regarding the leap from recognizing the right to a sustainable lifestyle, Francesca stressed that living sustainably is not just a choice but a necessity. Referencing the IPCC, she underlined the urgency of addressing climate change and living within planetary boundaries. The conversation concluded with a call for more questions from the audience, encouraging a broader dialogue on these crucial topics.

We also highlighted that while some international agreements are legally binding, others, like resolutions, may not have direct legal force but still hold authority. These non-binding instruments can influence state conduct and serve as interpretative tools for existing legal obligations. For example, the Convention on the Rights of the Child doesn’t explicitly mention the environment. Still, after the adoption of a resolution recognising the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment, the Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a general comment stating that environmental protection is integral to upholding children’s rights. Therefore, states must consider environmental factors to comply with their obligations under the Convention on the Rights of the Child. This illustrates how non-binding instruments can indirectly impact legal interpretations and state behaviour.

Until next time

📢 Curious to know how to embed sustainable lifestyles into our systems and policies? Learn from decision-makers working from local, national and EU levels at our Climate CAMPAIGNers final conference on 13 March 2024! 🎙️ Secure your spot now!

 #ClimateCampaigners #SustainableLifestyles

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