UN Committee hears children’s views on environment

Date: 13th October 2022
Category: Respect for the views of the child

Illustration shows children on a school trip enjoying the nature around them. The teacher is pointing out a butterfly.

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is listening to children and young people’s calls to inform its General Comment No. 26 which will give authoritative guidance on children’s rights and the environment with a special focus on climate change. The new General Comment is expected to launch in 2023.

A global Children’s Advisory Team, consisting of a small group of child experts from around the world, was set up to inform the children’s consultation process and co-design the questionnaire. These questions asked for children and young people’s concerns and experiences of climate and environmental issues.

A total of 7,416 children from 103 countries took part in the questionnaire and their key messages was that they felt worried, unheard and hopeless about governments’ abilities to improve the climate crisis.

42% of children said their lives and communities had been impacted due to the consequences of environmental damage and 56% said they worry about health of environment. A depressing 12% of children said they feel optimistic about climate and environmental challenges being resolved and 41% of children saying they feel ignored when they talk about climate change due to the lack of measures being taken in response to their opinions.

These findings from the consultation will inform the development of the first draft of the General Comment with a second phase of consultation with children taking place between November 2022 and February 2023. In line with the right to be heard, this consultation is a step towards including children and young people in the decision-making process at a global level, but without action taken by national governments their voices risk going unheard. Their message is clear, they want governments to listen to what they are asking for – action on the environmental crisis.