Statement to Human Rights Council: Realise children’s right to a healthy environment

On 4 March, the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI), Child Rights Connect Working Group on Child Rights and the Environment and Terre des Hommes delivered a joint statement for the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment at the Human Rights Council’s 46th Session. It draws attention to the relationship between children’s rights and the environment and calls on governments to recognize the right to a healthy environment, a step of particular relevance to children and future generations. Over 90 organizations across the world have endorsed the statement.


Realising children’s right to a healthy environment

This statement is made on behalf of the Child Rights Connect Working Group on child rights and the environment and the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative.

No group is more vulnerable to environmental harm than children. The numbers are truly shocking. More than 1.7 million children under the age of five lose their lives every year as a result of avoidable environmental impacts, while millions more suffer disease and permanent forms of harm. We welcome the focus on children’s rights in the latest report from the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, which states that every day, more than 700 children under the age of five die from water- and sanitation-related disasters. By 2040, almost 600 million children will live in regions with extremely limited water resources. From toxic water pollution and chemicals, to the climate crisis and global biodiversity loss, environmental risks pose grave and wide-ranging threats to children’s rights enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, with particular burdens faced by children facing intersecting forms of discrimination and marginalisation, including girls, children with disabilities, indigenous children and those living in poverty.

Although this has been widely documented in the past couple of years, there is still a gap in the recognition of the links between environmental harm and children’s rights. Children are not sufficiently recognised as holders of environmental rights; violations of their rights in relation to environmental breakdown are still underreported and are not met with adequate remedies. Strong normative standards to advance children’s environmental rights are missing.

The UN should formally recognise the right to a healthy environment as soon as possible. It would provide comprehensive protection against environmental harm, spur all states to prioritize actions to implement this vital human right and empower those working to protect the environment. Such a step would be of particular relevance to children and future generations, who shoulder a disproportionate share of the burden of environmental harm. It is beyond debate that children are wholly dependent on the natural environment to lead dignified, healthy and fulfilling lives, including a safe climate, clean air, safe water and adequate sanitation, healthy and sustainably produced food, non-toxic environments to learn and play in, and healthy biodiversity and ecosystems. In the face of an unprecedented environmental crisis, children and youth across the world are calling for more urgent and ambitious action.




  1. Advocacy For Child Justice (ACJ)

  2. Advocates of Hope Zimbabwe


  4. Africa Movement of Working Children and Youth

  5. Alliance for Health Promotion

  6. Association des Citoyens pour le Développement Durable en Haïti

  7. Awometrust

  8. Burundi Child Rights Forum

  9. Centre for Children’s Rights, Queen’s University, Belfast

  10. Centre for Environment and Rural Development

  11. Child Rights Coalition Asia

  12. Child Rights Connect

  13. Child Rights International Network (CRIN)

  14. Childline

  15. Children and Young People Living for Peace (CYPLP)

  16. Children and Youth Movement – Philippines

  17. Children Rights Advocacy and Legal Aid Foundation (CRALAF)

  18. Climate Warriors India

  19. Collective Community Action

  20. Community Transformation Foundation Network (COTFONE)

  21. Connecting


  23. Environment Africa

  24. Friedrich Ebert Stiftung, Kenya

  25. Gatef organizations

  26. Give Hope Uganda

  27. Green Institute

  28. How Impact

  29. Human Rights Watch

  30. Humanium

  31. IAM Mbare Youth Development Centre

  32. International Institute for Child Rights and Development

  33. Joy Village Foundation

  34. Kiambu county CHV CBO

  35. Kishoka Youth Community Based Organization

  36. Kiwangala Community Early Childhood Development Centre

  37. Kiwangala Community Library

  38. Kiwangala Community Primary School

  39. Kiwangala Community Social Initiatives

  40. Let Girls Learn Kenya Initiative

  41. Letsema Child Right Ambassadors

  42. Letsema Child Rights Network

  43. Livingstone Rhinos Rugby Union Club

  44. LRC ambassadors

  45. Make Mothers Matter

  46. Manyatta Development is Power

  47. MDT

  48. MenEngage Uganda Network

  49. Midlands AIDS Services Organisation

  50. Midlands State University

  51. Midlands State University Environmental Society(MSUES)

  52. Mtoto News

  53. Mubimba Primary School

  54. Mwanakwaye Movement

  55. Nest Foundation

  56. New Zimbabwe Youth Forum

  57. Pahchan Foundation

  58. Panos Institute Southern Africa

  59. PIVJET International

  60. Plan International

  61. Rede de jovens

  62. REPSSI

  63. Retsepile Support and Development Group

  64. Revival NGO

  65. RNCYPT

  66. Save the Children

  67. SGE Initiatives

  68. Soka Gakkai International (SGI)

  69. Somero

  70. Sonke Gender Justice

  71. SOS Children’s Villages – Eswatini

  72. Strive Foundation Uganda

  73. SUHAKAM – Human Rights Commission Malaysia


  75. The B Team

  76. The Boys Brigade Nigeria

  77. The Community Human Rights Defenders Network (ACPDH)

  78. The Conscientization Movement

  79. The Future Generations Project

  80. Trinity Project


  82. University Student Chamber International

  83. UNMGCY

  84. Village of Hope for Development and Rehabilitaton for Persons with Intellectual Disabilities

  85. Vunja Kimya Foundation

  86. World Vision International

  87. Young People’s Network on Sexual Reproductive Health on HIV and AIDS, Zvishavane

  88. Young Voices Trust

  89. YOUNGO

  90. Youth Environment Service

  91. Youth Network for Positive Change

  92. Zambia Civic Education Association

  93. Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association

  94. Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association Youth Network

Previous Post
Working with the UN Committee on the Rights of the child to promote environmental rights
Next Post
Let us remember that if life exists on earth, it is thanks to water, not money.
Other posts