Environmental degradation, climate breakdown, and the use of toxic chemicals have a dramatic impact on the quality of life of all human beings, and especially children as they are particularly susceptible to the adverse effects of environmental harm. Although this has been widely documented in the past couple of years, there is still a gap in the recognition of the links between environmental harm and children’s rights. Children are not sufficiently recognised as holders of environmental rights; violations of their rights in relation to environmental breakdown are still underreported and are not met with adequate remedies. Robust normative and practical guidance to advance children’s right to a healthy environment is missing.
The WG children’s rights and the environment
As a network based in Geneva, Child Rights Connect is well placed to influence relevant processes at the UN level and to link actors working on children’s rights at different levels (national, regional and international levels). Taking advantage of the diverse expertise of the members of the WG, their different levels of intervention as well as the vast network of partner organisations that Child Rights Connect is bringing, the WG is well placed to facilitate exchange among a wide range of relevant actors and influence international processes. While the focus is on UN Geneva-based activities, the WG also intends to provide a space for connecting the dots between different communities working at different levels and on different issues related to children’s rights and the environment (children’s/human rights, environment, education, health, women, environmental rights defenders). It is a platform for exchange, mutual learning and capacity building. It engages and promotes the issue among a wide range of relevant stakeholders (e.g. children and youth, children’s organisations, environmental organisations, decisions-makers, other professionals).
What can the WG do?
The overall goal of the WG is to work towards the international recognition and implementation of children’s fundamental right to a safe and healthy environment. In doing so, the WG will focus on the following specific tasks:
- Influence relevant processes at the UN and link these to actors working on children’s rights at different levels (national, regional and international levels). In particular, facilitate the dialogue with and strengthen the work of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on environmental matters.
- Mainstream children’s rights in key human rights and environmental frameworks and processes (UN Human Rights mechanisms; UNFCCC including the “Action for Climate Empowerment”; biodiversity processes; and other frameworks as relevant). Encourage and support the reporting of children’s rights violations, by children and their support groups, in relation to the degradation of the environment.
- Facilitate exchange, mutual learning and capacity building among member organizations and a wide range of relevant actors.
- Surface/Promote child-led initiatives/best practices of child participation in environmental activism.
- Support the broader objectives and work of other relevant initiatives and networks promoting children’s rights to a healthy and safe environment, including the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative and the push for recognition of a human right to a healthy and safe environment.