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Children are recognized as most vulnerable to its impacts and should therefore be in the forefront of climate change policy, advocacy and research - and yet they still are not. Furthermore, it is their right to participate in all matters that affect them - and yet this rarely happens. Children are the least responsible for the causes of climate change and yet they will unfairly inherit a legacy they did not choose.

Earth Summit & Conventions: 3 Aspects - Climate Change, Biodiversity & Sustainable Development

The estimated impacts of climate change on children are substantial, work against development objectives, can set back progress for child rights attained, and yet remain critically missing from the climate policy dialogues and responses. However, a critical opportunity has not yet been fully explored which may be able to elevate attention to children's issues related to climate change.


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The Convention unanimously adopted by the UN General Assembly in recognizes the human rights of children, defined as any person under the age of 18, and sets out in detail what every child needs to have for a safe, happy and fulfilled childhood. The CRC is the most widely-ratified international human rights treaty in history, in total governments have ratified it. It enshrines specific child rights in legally-binding international law and defines universal principles and standards for the status and treatment of children worldwide.

However, child rights are exposed to climate risks and will become harder particularly for developing countries to maintain their commitments to the CRC. Although all child rights may be affected, 15 rights are particularly at risk from climate change related setbacks, and described in the table below.

One UN Climate Change Learning Partnership

Four reasons why an integrated approach can be useful include: 1. Governments have ratified and have obligations under the CRC countries have ratified the CRC and are consequently under obligation to uphold each individual child rights article.

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This means that governments have a legally bound responsibility to take action on climate change to ensure it does not infringe on child rights nationally. The CRC puts obligations on governments to ensure that the children in their country are having their rights upheld. In addition, article 24 and General Comment 5 also put obligations on developed countries to take action on upholding child rights in developing countries. This means that developed countries must deliver on financial resources and political action to ensure that children are able to realize their rights in developing countries.

In the context of climate change, this could include mobilizing resources to help vulnerable communities adapt to the impact of climate change, and ensuring that emissions reductions do not lead to climate change impacts that negatively affect children in developing countries.

Child Rights at Risk: The case for joint action on climate change

In light of the growing uncertainty of a post-Kyoto climate regime where the responsibility for action lies, the CRC is already agreed by all governments and presents a potential framework for action on climate change which can directly complement progress at UNFCCC level. Monitoring and accountability mechanisms exist The State Party reporting processes with the CRC Treaty Body UN Committee on Rights of the Child and civil society engagement with members of the committee provide a unique platform for advocacy and accountability on children and climate change related issues.

This provides a powerful opportunity to hold governments accountable to deliver on climate action to protect child rights. Child rights policy can deliver co-benefits to climate challenges There are significant climate co-benefits from child rights oriented policy which reduces child vulnerability to climate change as it fulfills basic rights for child survival, development, protection, and participation.

About Climate Change

By delivering on climate action through a CRC lens, governments are not only ensuring they deliver on their CRC obligations, but also contributing to climate action. CRC presents a different angle for climate action Climate change is increasingly understood to be more than an environmental issue. By articulating climate impacts on the CRC, the focus can be shifted to prioritize children as the most vulnerable population, engender a rights-based approach, and monitor and advocate for the priority for child survival, development, and protection worldwide.


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Opportunities to Integrate Child Rights and Climate Change Action Today, without a "child-lens", most existing climate impact assessments and policy are developed without attention to child rights issues. The unique risks to children and the specific responses they require remain overlooked, because they are often enveloped into broader statements. This volume addresses SDG 13 " Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts " and contains the description of a range of terms, which allow a better understanding and foster knowledge.

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Climate change is a threat to development with unprecedented impacts. Urgent action to combat climate change and development of integrated strategies on climate change mitigation and adaptation and sustainable development are critical for a sustainable future. Skip to main content Skip to table of contents. Climate Action Living Edition.