September 20, 2018: IRES Faculty Seminar
Speaker: David Boyd

IRES Seminar Series

Time: 12:30pm to 1:30pm (every Thursday)

Location: AERL Theatre (room 120), 2202 Main Mall



The Right to Breathe Clean Air:  Catalyst for Change?


The World Health Organization reports that air pollution causes approximately seven million deaths per year, a terrible burden that affects all countries but disproportionately harms low- and middle-income States, mainly in Asia and Africa. These preventable deaths are caused in roughly equal proportions by ambient (outdoor) air pollution, produced by industry and motor vehicles, and household (indoor) air pollution, produced by cooking, heating, and lighting with polluting fuels.


Yet the right to clean air seems to have garnered far less academic, political, and legal attention than the right to water. Could political and legal recognition of the right to breathe clean air serve as a catalyst for improvements in air quality?  If so, what types of laws and policies might prove effective in achieving cleaner air for all, and especially the most vulnerable individuals and communities?



David Boyd

Associate Professor of Law, Policy and Sustainability, IRES


David R. Boyd is the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment and an associate professor of law, policy, and sustainability at the University of British Columbia. He has a PhD in Resource Management and Environmental Studies from UBC, a law degree from the University of Toronto, and a business degree from the University of Alberta. His career has included serving as the executive director of Ecojustice, appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada, and working as a special advisor on sustainability for Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin. He has advised many governments on environmental, constitutional, and human rights policy. Along with Mayor Gregor Robertson, he co-chaired Vancouver’s effort to become the world’s greenest city by 2020.


Boyd is also the author of nine books and over 100 reports and articles on environmental law and policy, human rights, and constitutional law. His most recent books include The Rights of Nature (ECW Press, 2017), The Optimistic Environmentalist (ECW Press, 2015), Cleaner, Greener, Healthier: A Prescription for Stronger Canadian Environmental Laws and Policies (UBC Press, 2015) and The Environmental Rights Revolution: A Global Study of Constitutions, Human Rights, and the Environment (UBC Press, 2012).



Photo Credit: Ivana Zelenika, IRES PhD Candidate