Call to Action: Realizing the rights of the child through a healthy environment

This week, two children human rights defenders addressed the UN Human Rights Council on protecting their rights and the environment. Franciscans International joins a call to action by civil society at this critical moment.

At a time when the world is in a deep health crisis, and as children’s rights globally suffer severe setbacks due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, attention must not be diverted from the environmental emergency that is undermining children’s rights and future prospects around the world.

Each year more than 1.7 million children under the age of five lose their lives as a result of avoidable environmental degradation, while millions more suffer disease, disability, and an array of other forms of harm, some of which can result in lifelong effects. Children’s rights are under threat due to insufficient government measures to address the climate crisis, unprecedented levels of biodiversity loss, exploitation of natural resources, exposure to toxic substances and waste, and widespread pollution of the air, water and soil. Negative effects are disproportionately experienced by girls, children in poverty, indigenous children, children with disabilities and others in vulnerable situations, exposing them to intersecting risks and often violating the principle of non-discrimination.

In light of this, millions of children and youth across the world are calling for more urgent and ambitious action to tackle the root causes and impacts of the global environmental crisis.

Member States should ensure that children’s voices are not only heard, but acted upon, by placing children’s rights and best interests at the core of ambitious and concrete environmental actions and policies, including recognition of a human right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. The time is ripe for action.

Read the full call to action here.