The impact of environmental damage on children’s rights is not a new issue. Yet, despite data explicitly linking environmental harm to child rights violations, increased awareness of environmental crises and numerous international agreements, the understanding of the relationship between children’s rights and the environment is still in its infancy.
To foster a deeper understanding of the contents and implications of the CRC with regard to environmental issues, the Committee on the Rights of the Child (the Committee) dedicated its 2016 Day of General Discussion (DGD) to the topic of children’s rights and the environment. On 23September 2016, over 250 experts, NGO and UN agency representatives, academics and child activists met in Geneva for the DGD. The Committee also received 49 written submissions and the event drew significant social media attention. The day was a milestone in bringing together knowledge on the environment and children’s rights across different areas of expertise.
The day began in full plenary, followed by discussions in working groups. The first working group focused on exposure to environmental toxicants, while the second one looked at the child rights impacts of climate change (morning) and the depletion of natural resources, degraded ecosystems, and loss of biodiversity (afternoon). In the closing session, the two Working Groups’ conclusions were presented to the plenary. This report highlights the main issues discussed during the day and in the written submissions. It also provides the recommendations which came out of the day and which form the basis for taking the environmental rights of children forward.