The UN Secretary General
The Chair of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
All Heads of Governments
Every child has the right to a healthy environment. But this right is not respected in practice. The global environmental crisis, climate change, extinction of species, huge quantities of plastic waste, and water and air pollution massively endanger the survival chances of children, in particular:
- Every year 1.7 million children die before their fifth birthday from drinking contaminated water or breathing polluted air.
- About 800 million children suffer from exposure to lead from the environment.
- Extreme drought threatens the lives of 160 million children. Hunger and malnutrition are the result.
- The home region of over 500 million children is at high risk of flooding.
Environmental damage is killing children and their hope for a future life worth living. That is why millions of children and young people all over the world are taking to the streets to call for better climate and environmental policies and a more sustainable way of life. It is time to listen and take their voices seriously.
We need a right recognised globally by the United Nations that obliges all governments and social actors to protect the children of today and tomorrow from environmental hazards. A healthy environment must be recognised as a human right.
Since children are hardest hit by environmental degradation and climate change, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child must be expanded. Children all over the world should be able to claim their right to a healthy environment.
Therefore, we appeal urgently to
1. The UN Secretary General: Call on UN Member States to recognise the human right to a healthy environment in the UN General Assembly.
2. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child: Develop an Optional Protocol that enshrines the right of children to a healthy environment and applies the Convention on the Rights of the Child to the environmental context.
3. The governments: Vote for the recognition of the human right and children’s right to a healthy environment at the UN and implement it in your national policies.