Hungarian draft constitution undermines the rights of future generations

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In Hungary the long term interests of the country are being endangered by a draft constitution which will abolish the right to a healthy environment and its representation via the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations. The removal of the green ombudsman’s institution is promoted by the Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union in hope of increasing short term economical and administrative advantages. Sándor Fülöp, the Hungarian Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations explains that the draft of the new Constitution, prepared by the governing parties, would in an internationally unprecedented manner abolish the fundamental right to a healthy environment and weaken significantly the institutional protection.

"The degradation of the quality of urban air, drinking water, food, furthermore the chemical substances and wastes that can be found everywhere take years from our life. The dangers and destructive processes are threatening even more the life of future generations, that is the life of our children and of our grandchildren. All these phenomena are confirmed by the reports of the UN, the EU and independent research institutes. However, the right to a healthy environment might still be left out from the Hungarian Constitution this time" - Sándor Fülöp

For now individuals, collectives and environmental NGOs can refer to the right guaranteed in the Constitution, when they challenge the authorities’ decisions or failures, when they experience the sacrifice of their environmental interests for the sake of economical interests or if simply the authorities do not perform their duties properly. ‘It is of course rather unpleasant for certain authorities and investors. For more than a decade they are fighting to cease the environmental rights of the citizens and NGOs. Now they are really close to achieving their goals.’ – deems Mr. Fülöp. The ombudsman reminds us that in 2007 the Parliament accepted practically unanimously the establishment of an independent institution to investigate the environmental complaints of citizens and non-governmental organizations, furthermore to act ex officio in every case, where the interests of the environment and of the future generations have to be represented. During its two and a half years of operation the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Future Generations has saved several thousand hectares of green areas, protected drinking water, world heritage sites and agricultural genetic heritage and acted against noise and air pollution.

The ending of the role of Commissioner for Future Generations could well would be the greatest trajedy of our resource scarce times. This reversal of the progress of Hungary as a future conscious region may well damage the way that the global neighbourhood views the emergence of Hungary which had been demonstrating itself a brave and innovative leader in the transition towards a fair and sustainable future.

For more information see:

http://jno.hu/en/?&menu=press

http://jno.hu/en/?&menu=downloads

 Header image courtesy of Hyllna a fantastic photographer from Norway. Check out her work at: http://hyllna.deviantart.com/