“Children’s Rights and Climate Justice”

2022 Annual Theme

In a historic move, the General Assembly of the United Nations recognised in July 2022 the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right - ground breaking move which highlights the level of global attention on the current environmental and climate crisis.  This follows a landmark resolution adopted in October 2021 when the Human Rights Council recognised for the first time the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This move has since been followed at a more regional level, for instance with the latest in date Council of Europe Committee of Ministers recommendation (September 2022) calling on the 46 Council of Europe member states to recognise the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right and acknowledging the intrinsic link between environmental harm and violations of the human rights of the most vulnerable.

Children have in recent years been highly engaged in climate activism; taking their own initiative to bring attention to this global threat, and seeking to influence those with the power to enact necessary changes. Many have expressed distress and disappointment where they have perceived their efforts to be in vain. It is in this context that ENOC sought to examine in 2022 the extent to which children can access climate justice, and how ENOC can contribute further in this area.

A special Working Group, chaired by the Ombudsman for Children of Iceland, led the ENOC work on Climate Justice supported by Dr. Aoife Daly and Prof. Laura Lundy, independent expert advisors. The work began by a scoping survey aiming to capture what was happening in relation to children’s rights and climate justice across the ENOC membership. Twenty-nine (out of 44) ENOC members responded to the survey the main findings of which were collated in a Synthesis report. Based on the survey findings, ENOC held a first-round discussion on the issue of Children’s Rights and Climate Justice on the occasion of a working Seminar in June 2022 in Warsaw, Poland aiming at informing the preliminary terms of the ENOC position statement on the same topic.

In parallel and in the framework of the ENYA (European Network of Young Advisors) child participation project, children and young people from 17 ENOC member countries/regions were provided with a platform to express views on how environmental harm affects their human rights, what are the main rights at stake, and what rights and legal avenues they have or should have at their disposal to attain global justice. While the ENYA project involved more than 300 young people, 34 Young people participated in the ENYA 2022 Annual Forum “Let’s talk young, Let’s talk about Climate Justice!” on 28-30 June 2022 in Bilbao, Spain to present their domestic initiatives and to work out common recommendations addressing Climate Justice and Children’s Rights.

More information on the ENYA 2022 project HERE.

The final dissemination event – the 26th ENOC Annual Conference on “Shaping the Future: Children’s Rights in a Climate Crisis” – took place on 19-20 September 2022 in Reykjavik, Iceland – bringing together Ombudspersons for Children from across Europe, representatives of key European and International Governmental and Non-Governmental organisations, governmental (Iceland) authorities, professionals, experts, climate activists, and children and young people. On this same occasion ENOC held its 26th Annual General Assembly which endorsed the Network’s 2022 Policy position statement on ‘Children’s Rights and Climate Justice’.