Today’s actions and inactions to protect the planet will affect children now and future generations. Therefore, children must be included and consulted in decision-making processes, told child advisor Kathak to UN Member States.
On 4 March 2022, the UN General Assembly held a panel discussion in the context of the follow up to the Secretary-General’s “Our Common Agenda” report. Different stakeholders, including children, civil society representatives, and the private sector participated in this discussion while focusing on the protection of the earth and the interests of future generations. is a response to consolidate global solidarity in the context of the climate crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Kathak, our former child advisor from Bangladesh who is an active environmental human rights defender, spoke during this session on behalf of Child Rights Connect and the Children’s Advisory Team:
“… I welcome all the actions by the Secretary-General which ensure that young people are included and consulted in the decision-making processes related to the environment…”
“… We call on the Secretary-General to ensure that not only young people are consulted but also children including younger children who are asking worldwide to be listened to and continue to decision-making with the regards to the environment and climate change…”
“Children deserve to be treated as distinct rights-holders and their rights are at the core of the common agenda’s implementation, which develops a new kind of social contract. Finally, we would like to know how the Secretary-General is planning to mainstream children’s rights across the UN, all environmental discussions and decision-making processes.”
Kathak’s messages resonated with those delivered by the panelists of the consultations as well as some State representatives. Sophie Howe (Future Generations Commissioner for Wales), Elhadj As Sy (Global Preparedness Monitoring Board), Ernest Gibson (Youth Advisory Group) and Valeria Colunga (UN Foundation) emphasized why and how children, young people and future generations should become part of the UN decision-making process. Climate change is a threat to our planet and human well-being. The current adaptations concerning environmental protection and climate are too slow and inadequate.
The lack of child participation is concerning when we think about the impact on children’s lives of the decisions made without consulting them. The contemporary system does not represent adequately children, young people and future generations. Therefore, a future-oriented and accountability-seeking representative should be appointed to advocate for future generations’ best interests.
“… Every country in the world needs future generations’ acts to limit its impact. We all have a duty to protect people not born yet from the harm they will suffer without serious actional climate change.” (Sophie Howe)
“…1.8 Billion young people… will live with the consequences of the action and inaction of decision-makers in rooms like this.” (Valeria Colunga)
“…The envoy [who advocates in the future generations’ interests] and the UN system should embrace inter-generational diversity.” (Valeria Colunga)
“Decision-makers need to listen to [the young generation’s] voice.” (Representative of Italy)
“It is necessary to involve and give an active voice to all stakeholders such as […] youth…” (Representative of Mexico)
The fifth and final consultation of “Our Common Agenda” took place on the 8th of March. After the final session, a summary of all the consultations will be published on the UN Website. Child Rights Connect will continue to engage to make sure that children’s rights are mainstreamed in the implementation of the SG “Our Common Agenda” report and that synergies are established with the process of developing an SG Guidance Note on Child Rights Mainstreaming.
Have you seen Child Rights Connect’s response to the UN Common Agenda?
Child Rights Connect has been collaborating with its members and broader civil society organisations to advocate for the UN to mainstream child rights in its every action. Read our position paper in response to “Our Common Agenda” report which provides justifications for the UN to put child rights at the core of its work.