Climate change and children's rights

Date: 10th August 2016
Category: Right to life, survival and development

The Human Rights Council adopted a resolution during its 32nd session on human rights and climate change with a focus on children's rights. It recognises that children are among the most vulnerable to climate change, and that this may have a serious impact on their rights.

It may impact on children's rights to enjoy the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, access to education, adequate food, adequate housing, safe drinking water and sanitation. According to the text, the Human Rights Council will hold a panel discussion at its 34th session and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights will conduct a "detailed analytical study on the relationship between climate change and the full and effective enjoyment of the rights of the child". The resolution also refers to the day of general discussion of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on children's rights and the environment to be held on 23 September 2016.


In addition, CRIN is calling on the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to address children's access to justice in the context of the environment as part of its Day of General Discussion. Climate change, pollution, environmental degradation and resource depletion have a disproportionate effect on the quality of life of current and future generations of children. Furthermore, children's bodies are particularly susceptible to adverse effects of environmental harm because exposure occurs during sensitive periods of development and their young age means they will have to live with any consequences for longer. Ensuring children's access to justice in this context can secure redress for violations already incurred and prevent their recurrence. States should in particular establish collective and public interest action mechanisms; ensure NGOs have standing to file and intervene in legal proceedings in the interests of children affected now and on behalf of future generations; and enshrine the justiciable right to a clean environment in domestic law.