Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action

On 9 December 2019, at the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP 25) in Madrid, Spain, governments and youth activists united for a historic moment to sign an Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action.

This declaration – based on priorities identified by YOUNGO and inputs from children and youth across the world received through CERI’s online and in-person consultations – is the first of its kind commitment to accelerate inclusive, child and youth-centered climate policies and action at national and global levels. It is one of the many important steps towards developing global principles on child rights and the environment.

CERI, UNICEF and YOUNGO are the custodians of the declaration, working with governments to support the implementation of its commitments.

Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action

A pledge drafted by children and youth and aligned to by champion governments willing to uphold priorities identified by children and youth throughout the world.

Considering that children face heightened and specific risks due to climate change, that these impacts are already occurring, and that the most disadvantaged and marginalized children bear the heaviest burden;

Acknowledging the global leadership and calls of children and young people for urgent and immediate climate action, as well as their critical role as agents of change;

Recalling the commitment made in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as well as the global goal on adaptation in Article 7, recognizing that these commitments would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change, as well as the global goal on adaptation in Article 7, recognizing that these commitments would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change,

Reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and all human rights instruments relevant to the protection, promotion, respect and fulfilment of the human rights of all children and young people;

Recalling the Paris Agreement commitment by States to respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, including the rights of children, and intergenerational equity, when taking action to address climate change;

Recalling also Human Rights Council Resolutions 37/8, 35/20 and 40/11 which address the rights of children and young people with respect to environmental harm and climate change, and that a safe climate is a vital element of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and is essential to human life and well-being;

COMMIT, THEREFORE, TO CONSIDER:

1. Advocating for global recognition and fulfilment of children’s inalienable right to a healthy environment, and to take steps to enshrine this right where appropriate into national, regional and global frameworks and/or national policies and legislation;

2. Enhancing efforts to respect, promote and consider the rights of children and young people in implementation of the Paris Agreement at all levels, including recognition of their specific vulnerabilities, as well as their status as key stakeholders and implementers, in countries’ national climate adaptation and mitigation measures, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and long-term greenhouse gas emissions development strategies, including consideration of the particular role and responsibilities of the private sector;

3. Scaling up and accelerating investment in child- and youth-responsive adaptation, disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures, cognizant of the urgent need to focus on reaching children most at risk, and advocate for child-sensitive criteria to be mainstreamed in multilateral funds;

4. Strengthening the capacity of children and young people on climate change  mitigation and adaptation efforts by establishing and investing in climate change and  environmental education, and equipping children and young people with the knowledge  and skills required to protect themselves and contribute to a safe and sustainable future,  ensuring that such efforts reach marginalized children and youth;

5. Enhancing the meaningful participation of children and youth in climate change processes, including through the Action for Climate Empowerment dialogue, by participating in the Youth Delegate Programme in the UNFCCC, and examining opportunities to meaningfully support YOUNGO priorities and the participation of young people, with a focus on the Global South;

6. Exploring measures to establish an international Commission for Children and Future Generations, as well as new or existing mechanisms at the national level to ensure the effective participation of children and youth in decision making on climate change;

7. Adopting institutional and administrative measures, as well as partnerships, at national and international levels to actively pursue the above objectives, and to enhance coherence and a cross-cutting focus on children and youth in climate action, including with respect to UNFCCC decision-making processes and workstreams, and implementation of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.

Signatories

THE DECLARATION HAS BEEN SIGNED BY MORE THAN THIRTY STATES AND NATIONS FROM AROUND THE WORLD. THE FULL LIST OF SIGNATORIES, FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & IMPLEMENTATION GUIDANCE ARE AVAILABLE ON THE UNICEF WEBSITE.

If you are a representative of a nation that would like to sign on to this declaration, please send an email to climate@unicef.org