What is the General Comment No 26
The UNCRC is taking an important step to hold governments accountable for ensuring children live in a clean, green, healthy and sustainable world. The General Comment on Children’s Rights and the Environment with a Special Focus on Climate Change (General Comment No. 26) will be their official guidance on how children’s rights are impacted by the environmental crisis and what governments must do to uphold these rights.
Consulting with those who are most affected
The General Comment is being informed by everyone who has a stake, from human rights institutions, Indigenous Peoples’ organisations to United Nations agencies and States. Most importantly, it is being shaped by children and young people, especially from communities most impacted by the environmental crisis. From December 2021 – 2023, the UNCRC engaged these groups through a series of offline and online consultations and workshops, including specific consultations with children and young people. They also invited feedback on their written draft. CRIN submitted our input too - to share what we liked, what we felt could be improved and what’s missing.
A few areas that our submission focuses on…
Welcoming the report’s recognition of children’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, the inclusion of the concept of intergenerational equity, the substantial focus on children’s access to justice, and the disproportionate and distinct impacts climate change has for different groups of children.
Recommending that particularly affected groups are identified in a way that is presented in consistent, inclusive and non-exhaustive terms.
Highlighting the need for framing environmental harm and climate change as powerful drivers for violence against children, for acknowledging children’s exposure to toxics, and for adding a specific heading on “Loss and Damage”.
Adding our support to the recommendations made by Indigenous Peoples’ groups regarding land rights and meaningful consultation with Indigenous children and their families in responding to climate change.
Urging the Committee to recognise age-based discrimination of children as particularly relevant in the context of environmental harm and climate change.
Suggesting the need for additional guidance on what States could do to improve children’s access to climate justice, and for how remedies can be tailored.