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Tomorrow's Stewards: The Case for a Unified International Framework on the Environmental Rights of Children

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Abstract

This paper evaluates an approach for strengthening environmental rights for children to safeguard child health. We focus on children as beneficiaries of environmental rights on account of their vulnerability to environmental impacts on their physical and mental health. Current legal frameworks, unless explicitly identifying children as beneficiaries, arguably tend to be adult-centric. Our goal here is to develop a comprehensive rights-based framework to ensure that children are protected against adverse environmental impacts. We argue that approaches that safeguard children's rights to life, health, and education should include environment-related issues, standards, and protections for those rights to be fully implemented. We propose employing sustainable development as a framework under which to develop an international treaty to promulgate the environmental rights of the child, thereby promoting health, environmental stewardship, and quality of life for children and future generations. We further argue that children's environmental rights extend beyond basic "needs"-such as clean air, clean water, sanitation, and a healthful environment, among others-to include the right to benefit from access to nature of a certain quality and the wealth of educational, recreational, developmental, and health benefits that come with ensuring protection of the environment for children.
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
JUNE 2019 VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal 203
Tomorrow’s Stewards: e Case for a Unied
International Framework on the Environmental Rights
of Children
 . ,  ,   . 
Abstract
is paper evaluates an approach for strengthening environmental rights for children to safeguard child
health. We focus on children as beneciaries of environmental rights on account of their vulnerability
to environmental impacts on their physical and mental health. Current legal frameworks, unless
explicitly identifying children as beneciaries, arguably tend to be adult-centric. Our goal here is to
develop a comprehensive rights-based framework to ensure that children are protected against adverse
environmental impacts. We argue that approaches that safeguard children’s rights to life, health, and
education should include environment-related issues, standards, and protections for those rights to be
fully implemented. We propose employing sustainable development as a framework under which to
develop an international treaty to promulgate the environmental rights of the child, thereby promoting
health, environmental stewardship, and quality of life for children and future generations. We further
argue that children’s environmental rights extend beyond basic “needs”—such as clean air, clean water,
sanitation, and a healthful environment, among others—to include the right to benet from access
to nature of a certain quality and the wealth of educational, recreational, developmental, and health
benets that come with ensuring protection of the environment for children.
K E.Misa lecturer in environmental law at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College, London, UK.
S Z is a PhD student and research assistant at the School of Community and Regional Planning, University of British Columbia,
Vancouver, Canada.
M R. A is a Presidents Scholar PhD candidate at the Centre for Environmental Policy, Imperial College, London, UK, and co-director of
the Aczel Foundation for Research and Education in Science and Mathematics.
Please address correspondence to Karen E. Makuch. Email: k.e.makuch@imperial.ac.uk.
Competing interests: None declared.
Copyright © 2019 Makuch, Zaman, and Aczel. is is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution
Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/), which permits unrestricted noncommercial use, distribution, and
reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
204 JUNE 2019 VOLUME 10 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal
Introduction
As children face increasing ecological and social
challenges, such as pollution, health risks, climate
change, land degradation, poverty, and lack of
access to education, among others, advancing en-
vironmental human rights has never been more
important. Further, a growing body of research
that links reduced exposure or time spent out-
doors to a decline in child mental well-being adds
urgency to our argument. e adverse impacts of
environmental degradation breach both environ-
mental and human rights. Given that children have
historically suered from underrepresentation in
environmental protection, an approach based on
human rights may bring benets in environmental
advocacy. ough not all stakeholders are morally
compelled to implement the environmental rights
of children, we concede that some form of human
rights-based legislation would arguably make it
dicult for “oenders” to sidestep the moral obli-
gation to safeguard the health and environmental
well-being of children.
Environmental rights, as dened by the Unit-
ed Nations Environment Programme, include both
substantive and procedural rights. Substantive
rights “include those in which the environment has
a direct eect on the existence or the enjoyment
of the right itself ” and include both civil and po-
litical rights, as well as cultural and social rights,
such as the rights to “health, water, food, and
culture in addition to collective rights aected by
environmental degradation,” including indigenous
peoples’ rights. Procedural rights represent an
important intersection between human rights law
and environmental law, as they prescribe actions
that states must take to enforce legal rights. ey
include access to information and participation
in decision-making, access to justice, and other
rights. Environmental rights can also be a useful
precursor to safeguarding the health of children,
particularly in the absence of a sound environmen-
tal regulatory framework.
For our purposes, we dene a child in ac-
cordance with article  of the United Nations
Convention on the Rights of the Child, which
states that “a child means every human being be-
low the age of eighteen years unless under the law
applicable to the child, majority is attained earlier.”
Typically, children have not been independently or
explicitly represented or considered in the setting
of environmental standards, environmental law-
making, or environmental rights discourse, yet
they are its victims.
We present ve arguments in this paper:
. Much of the multilateral legislation designed to
address environmental issues ought to benet
the child as a distinct recipient, particularly if
interpreted and applied purposefully with the
child in mind, resulting in improved standards of
health and well-being for the child and increased
environmental protection and standards.
. Children would benet from higher environmen-
tal standards than those currently prescribed in
international legal instruments, given that they
are physiologically more vulnerable than adults
to environmental pollution and other adverse
environmental impacts.
. More concerted action is needed to safeguard the
health of children relative to substantive environ-
mental measures (such as access to clean water).
. Providing children with environmental rights is
a prerequisite to attaining sustainable develop-
ment in the future as adults.
. ere are currently no international standards
(and very few national ones) on the environ-
mental rights of the child per se.
Background: Sustainable development as a
framework for the environmental rights of
children
e  Brundtland Commission report, Our
Common Future, articulated the concept of sus-
tainable development within the international
community, making explicit reference to “needs”:
Humanity has the ability to make development
sustainable to ensure that it meets the needs of the
present without compromising the ability of future
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
JUNE 2019 VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal 205
generations to meet their own needs. e concept
of sustainable development does imply limits—not
absolute limits but limitations imposed by the
present state of technology and social organization
on environmental resources and by the ability of the
biosphere to absorb the eects of human activities.12
Furthermore, chapter  of the  United Nations
Conference on Environment and Development’s
nonbinding “action plan,” or Agenda , specically
addresses children and youth in sustainable devel-
opment. We argue that the health and well-being
of current and future generations ought to be the
focal point of any current legislation or policy
developments that promote sustainability and
positive environmental protection for the needs
of children. Children need to breathe clean air.
Children need clean drinking water. Children need
access to nature because of its benets for health
and well-being. We interpret the concept of needs
within the spirit of the Brundtland Commission, as
this provides a useful link between human rights
and environmental objectives, so that children
might have lives of a certain environmental quality.
Dominic McGoldrick suggests that “sustain-
able development can be structurally conceived
as having a [three-] pillared, temple-like structure
composed of international environmental law,
international human rights law and international
economic law … e emergence of sustainable de-
velopment has coincided with a broadly increasing
consensus in international human rights.” is
interpretation of sustainable development aligns
with our arguments for the environmental rights
of children, as the attainment of human rights
standards is contingent on the attainment of sus-
tainable development standards, and vice versa.
Further, it can be argued that we have seen a
revival of the link between human rights and the
environment over the past few decades, spearhead-
ed by regulatory and policy developments related
to climate change (for example, the  Paris
Agreement ). We are now seeing children striking
from school to campaign against perceived inac-
tion on climate change, as well as children suing
governments for failure to respond to pressing cli-
mate needs, bolstered by support from the United
Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on human rights
and the environment. e international com-
munity is awakening to the notion of children as
environmental actors and stakeholders.
Dening environmental rights
Environmental rights are important for securing
the health of future generations, as they protect
basic necessities needed for survival and to thrive,
such as water and air. If we allow others to prot
from polluting our natural resources at the expense
of causing ill-health, there is inequity and needs
cannot be met.
We adopt an anthropocentric interpretation
of environmental rights in order to treat a “de-
cent,” “healthy,” “healthful,” “clean,” or “sound”
environment as an economic and social right.
is interpretation ts within our working frame-
work of sustainable development, which requires
developmental objectives to take cognizance of
environmental, social, and economic matters.
Sustainable development allows us to argue against
uncontrolled and unaccountable environmen-
tal exploitation in order to meet the needs of the
current generation, a large subgroup of which are
children, while not environmentally, socially, or
economically compromising the needs of future
generations. According to the UN Special Rappor-
teur on human rights and the environment, a “safe,
clean, healthy and sustainable environment is inte-
gral to the full enjoyment of a wide range of human
rights, including the rights to life, health, food, wa-
ter and sanitation. Without a healthy environment,
we are unable to full our aspirations or even live
at a level commensurate with minimum standards
of human dignity. is anthropocentric deni-
tion portrays the environment as something that
needs to be protected in order to be either readily
or eventually available, accessible, and utilizable
by humans. In the context of this work, we oer
the standard of environment as being one that is
“healthful”: healthy in its own integral way, but
giving of health to others, including children.
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
206 JUNE 2019 VOLUME 10 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal
e Convention on the Rights of the Child
At the international level, the legal basis that is
most appropriate for our arguments concerning
the environmental rights of children is the 
United Nations Convention on the Rights of the
Child. Currently,  countries are parties to the
treaty, meaning that they agree to the legal re-
strictions and principles stated in the document.
Although the convention does not explicitly men-
tion environmental rights as a type of right, it does
recognize environment-related rights. Such rights
can be argued to be encompassed by the follow-
ing articles: article  (discrimination), article ()
(privacy, family, home), article  (health, water,
environmental pollution, food), article () (social
development), and article ()(e) (respect for the
environment). Four further articles include article
 (development of child), article  (refugee child
protection), article  (disabled children), and ar-
ticle  (education). Article  on the right to life
provides the most substantial legal argument for
the environmental rights of the child. If you cannot
breathe clean air, drink clean water, and so on, how
can you live? Further, articles  and  indicate
that children should be given sucient health care
for survival and development, including special
provisions for children with disabilities, again pro-
viding convincing reasons to demand some form of
environmental safeguards for children to avoid ill
health or barriers to a full life due to environmental
concerns. Articles  and  endorse children’s ed-
ucational rights and develop educational goals that
help children learn how “to live peacefully, protect
the environment and respect other people.”
Article  provides a convincing legal basis for
the promotion of the environmental rights of the
child. Article () requires state parties to “recog-
nise the right of every child to a standard of living
adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual,
moral and social development.” Current literature
supports our assertion that promoting a child’s
environmental rights is necessary to ensure the
child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral, and social
development. When the results of such studies are
applied to article () of the convention, we can ar-
gue that the promulgation of environmental rights
and protection by state parties can advance the
standards of living and development of the child.
Fatma Zohra Ksentini, in her UN report on human
rights and the environment, argues that the con-
vention’s articles outline environmental elements
in the form of a child’s rights to life, health, an
adequate standard of living, and education.
e Convention on the Rights of the Child
has been rapidly ratied by most of the world’s
countries, providing evidence of global interest in
protecting children’s rights per se. us, the in-
troduction of children’s environmental rights could
prove to be readily accepted worldwide, given the
mounting international support for sustainable de-
velopment and environmental protection (support
for the  Paris Agreement and the revised 
Sustainable Development Goals have encouraged
the participation of youth in achieving the  Sus-
tainable Development Goals). States have already
agreed on working denitions and standards on
the “environment” in various multilateral envi-
ronmental agreements. However, the Convention
on the Rights of the Child enshrines rights that are
related to environmental issues yet are not speci-
cally designed to address the environmental rights
of children.
Cross-border environmental problems and
rights-based problems for children
Environmental issues frequently have a transna-
tional reach. For example, the “slash and burn”
res that were deliberately started to clear land
for agricultural purposes in Indonesia resulted
in air pollution in Malaysia, Singapore, ailand,
and the Philippines. With respect to human rights
agreements, the application of the Convention on
the Rights of the Child tends to be geographical-
ly conned to those state parties that are legally
required to protect children within their own juris-
dictions. Environmental pollution or natural and
human-induced disasters can harm children living
in neighboring countries, yet the substantive provi-
sions of the convention are arguably not interpreted
widely enough to safeguard children beyond states’
national jurisdictions. is is counter to the con-
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
JUNE 2019 VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal 207
vention’s aim to protect the rights of the children of
this planet as a whole.
Recommendations for strengthening the
framework
State parties to the Convention on the Rights of
the Child need to be open to providing assistance
to children of neighboring countries rather than
operating solely in their own countries. is
could be done by amending articles to include the
protection of children who are aected by trans-
boundary environmental harm. e development
of bilateral legislation to address the adverse eects
of cross-border environmental harm on children,
drawing on relevant multilateral environmental
agreements, such as the Convention on Environ-
mental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary
Context, would be useful. One pressing issue, for
example, is air pollution, which would also require
precise language concerning countries and their
borders, particularly borders with a history of
conict (such as the India-Pakistan border and the
Israel-Palestine border) and clauses on the cooper-
ation of the wider international community. is
inclusion could result in a comprehensive approach
to the protection of children’s environmental rights
in which countries work together to promote the
well-being of their child ren and the global com mons
and to implement the environmental principles of
good neighborliness and cross-border cooperation,
among others. is cooperative approach would
allow competent authorities to share best practices
and resources and allow collaborative thinking
among local planners, environmental regulators,
and child rights advocates based on rights and eq-
uity. Some of the environmental rights-based issues
that could be addressed through such cooperation
are discussed below.
Access to healthful nature for physical and
mental health
Children’s access to the natural environment varies
around the world. Certain areas either lack green
spaces altogether or have spaces that are polluted
and hazardous to children’s well-being and develop-
ment. For many children, the natural environment
is not a recreational space for leisure activities but
instead a place that demands intense physical labor
due to poverty. Furthermore, children living in
developing countries may deal with unsafe and
unsanitary conditions, food insecurity, war, and
natural disasters. Disproportionate access to
clean green spaces and exposure to environmental
hazards can also stem from structural inequalities
based on race, socioeconomic status, and gender.
A recent study conducted by Catherine Walker
sheds light on the discrepancies between children’s
perspectives of the environment in India and the
United Kingdom. According to Walker, children’s
views diered based on the prevalence of their
exposure to such hazards, geographical proximity
to these hazards, and the steps taken to mitigate
them. Such environmental inequalities may bene-
t from strengthening the application of existing
human rights and working to dismantle structural
inequalities by adopting an environmental justice
lens. Additionally, Kim Ferguson et al. claim that
the documented impacts of the physical environ-
ment on children’s development in the Global
South are limited and should be investigated in
collaboration with children, government agencies,
and community members.
In some parts of the world, children are in-
creasingly less connected with the environment’s
healthful and health-giving qualities. Children
may have access to certain types of natural areas,
but these areas may not be healthful—for example,
contaminated land sites or elds containing pesti-
cides. ere may be an absence of green spaces or a
lack of access to such spaces due to social, econom-
ic, and other reasons. Growing evidence suggests
that a child’s disconnection with nature prevents
healthy mental and physical development, as well
as responsible stewardship of the environment.
Nature decit disorder and the link to
children’s health
Richard Louv’s idea of “nature decit disorder”
contends that children’s “alienation from nature”
can result in “diminished use of the senses, atten-
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
208 JUNE 2019 VOLUME 10 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal
tion diculties and higher rates of physical and
emotional illnesses.” Moreover, there is ample
evidence to suggest that adult memories of child-
hood experiences have signicant impacts on an
adult’s emotional stability. Exposure to nature at
a young age helps children develop their emotional
responsiveness, a quality that contributes to their
emotional well-being during adulthood. is fur-
ther highlights the importance of the fact that the
children of today will ultimately grow up to become
the care-takers of the environment in the future.
Studies have also shown that a child’s life course
can have major impacts on adult life. Examples
include a study by Nancy Wells and Kristi Lekies,
in which , adults were interviewed regarding
their environmental childhood experiences and
current attitudes toward the environment. e re-
sults indicated a positive relationship between those
who had participated in environmental activities as
children and environmentally friendly behaviors as
adults. Research by the United Nations Children’s
Fund reveals that children’s learning abilities and
behaviors are enhanced when they study outdoors
and that their mental well-being and happiness
grows with increasing exposure to nature. Below,
we present arguments for the environmental rights
of children as a means to promote their reconnec-
tion to healthful nature.
Four key categories that benet from
environmental rights
Children are born with a sense of wonder and an
anity for Nature. Properly cultivated, these values
can mature into ecological literacy, and eventually
into sustainable patterns of living.”
Moving forward, we have divided “environmental
rights” as they pertain to children into four catego-
ries, following research undertaken by the National
Trust, a UK-based nongovernmental organization:
() health and well-being; () education and aware-
ness; () resilient communities; and () ecosystem
services.
ese four categories are associated with
children’s most basic rights: adequate health care,
an education that includes general awareness of
global issues, resilience in the face of natural and
human-induced disasters, and protected ecosystem
services for inter-generational equity. e studies
we cite below tend to use examples from developed
countries. is does not mean that the ndings
and arguments do not apply to children in devel-
oping-country contexts, but rather that relevant
studies may not have been undertaken to date.
Health and well-being
Access to health-giving green spaces (safe, natural
areas as opposed to polluted cities, for example) is
known to increase outdoor activity, which in turn
has the capacity to produce positive health-related
outcomes. Early exposure to outdoor activities
leads to children following these habits during
their adulthood, ensuring that they can become
responsible future stewards of the environment.
Increased contact with nature can also improve
mental well-being, which is a crucial aspect of a
child’s physical development.
However, many environments where children
live either do not oer access to healthful green
spaces or may be hazardous, polluted, or over-
grown.
Education and awareness
Increased exposure to the natural environment
enhances a child’s learning abilities. Child psychol-
ogist Aric Sigman coined the term “countryside
eect,” nding that increased contact with nature
improves a child’s concentration, reasoning, obser-
vational skills, and overall academic performance.
According to the National Trust, a child experienc-
es educational and developmental benets in four
impact categories: () cognitive, () aective, ()
interpersonal and social, and () physical and be-
havioral. We argue that this can benet the mental
and physical health and development of the child.
Resilient communities
Children’s environmental rights can assist in
building resilient communities. Children who
have had a strong connection with nature become
adults who pass to their ospring positive traits ac-
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
JUNE 2019 VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal 209
quired from their exposure to the natural world.
Studies undertaken by researchers at the University
of Leeds in the United Kingdom have shown that
a parent’s eort to raise positive environmental
awareness in their children is more crucial than
a school program in environmental education.
Additionally, children who are given an environ-
mental education have a positive impact on their
parent’s environmental attitudes.
With extensive studies providing evidence
that climate change has led to an increasingly high
rate of unpredictable disasters, it is critical that we
understand how to alleviate the eects of climate
change on children and future generations. Such
eects include oods, cyclones, earthquakes,
droughts, tsunamis, and other extreme weather
events, which have led to fatalities, displacement,
poverty, food insecurity, and habitat destruction.
Implementing child rights programming in DRR
planning should include the participation of
children in identifying disaster relief solutions in
times of emergency. is in turn, decreases chances
of exploitation and improves overall resilience.
Contingency planning and crisis management can
be ensured by acknowledging the environmental
rights to education and awareness, access to clean
drinking water, access to information, and so on.
David Selby and Fumiyo Kagawa note the signi-
cance of including practical DRR-based knowledge
in school curricula, as well as conducting aware-
ness-raising campaigns in order to strengthen the
response capabilities of communities. Victor Mar-
chezini et al. argue for the importance of involving
youth and the education sector in participatory and
community-based approaches to early warning
systems.
e  Indian Ocean tsunami illustrates
how organizations such as Save the Children have
used educational strategies for DRR purposes.
Students attending the Ban Talaynork School in
Ranong, ailand, were encouraged to participate
in evacuation plans and were taught how to cope
with tsunamis in their school curricula. ey were
also given psychosocial rehabilitation treatments to
aid their emotional and psychological recovery.
Children also have the ability to orchestrate di-
saster relief strategies without outside help. In the
ood-prevalent area of the Go Cong Dong district
in Vietnam, children devised a plan to develop an
evacuation road so that they would not lose access
to their schools or playgrounds during typhoon
season. e fact that education and awareness
can change a life-or-death situation indicates that
such knowledge is not only an environmental right
but also a basic human right. Education as an
emergency response can provide information on
diseases and hygiene, another basic environmental
and human need. Encouraging meaningful youth
participation in disaster planning—and support-
ing it through a robust framework for children’s
environmental rights protection—can provide a
long-term investment for resilient communities
given that the youth of today will be the ones imple-
menting DRR initiatives and actions in the future.
Ecosystem services
Ecosystems are a major factor contributing to peo-
ple’s economic, cultural, and spiritual well-being.
A healthy ecosystem ultimately leads to healthy
children, adults, and future generations, and
vice versa. Employing children’s environmental
rights—including the rights to education, food,
shelter, clean water and air, and sanitation—can
protect ecosystem services for current and future
generations, bringing both ecocentric and an-
thropocentric benets. e Waipa Foundation
in Hawaii empowers residents, especially those
with low incomes, to manage their environmen-
tal resources eciently, employing a traditional
environmental management system that incorpo-
rates “sub-divisions of land, from mountaintop to
seashore, using streams as boundaries through ac-
tivities with the local community and school
children.” Growing organic food, educating
children on environmental issues, and including
them in environmental management strategies has
helped protect ecosystem services, in turn provid-
ing a magnitude of co-benets for children.
However, these four categories are not current-
ly present in international and national frameworks
because children are largely not recognized as
“stakeholders.” A framework that acknowledges
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
210 JUNE 2019 VOLUME 10 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal
children as ocial stakeholders and gives them the
right to be heard, the right to participate, and the
right to decision-making is a necessary next step.
Fortunately, there have been a few recent lawsuits
related to environmental issues in which children
have won the right to be heard. For example, a case
in the Philippines (Oposa v. Factoran) allowed 
children to be heard regarding their concerns over
timber leases and consequential deforestation.
Similarly, the Chernaik v. Kitzhaber case in the
United States is another hopeful example of children
and youth being allowed to ght for their current
and future well-being. Other examples include the
children of Quebrada de Alajuela in Ecuador, who
pointed out that a bridge connecting their village to
a neighboring one was not strong enough to handle
a ood, consequently saving the community from a
potentially disastrous safety hazard.
Although there are many good examples of
children being allowed to voice their opinions,
there are also cases in which such rights have been
disregarded. erefore, promoting legal victories
and informing the general public about them
can provide a framework for similar lawsuits in
the future. Furthermore, minors need eective
guardians—that is, adults who are on the side of
safeguarding the environmental rights of children.
is is to make sure that in cases where children
are considered to lack legal standing, they can be
represented by advocates with access to the courts.
Such advocates could be nongovernmental organi-
zations, school teachers, or parents.
Design and implementation
An internationally agreed framework for the envi-
ronmental rights of children would benet children
and future generations in a multitude of ways. We
propose utilizing sustainable development as a
framework under which to develop an internation-
al treaty to promulgate the environmental rights
of children, promoting health, environmental
stewardship, and quality of life for children and fu-
ture generations. Children’s environmental rights
extend beyond the most basic “needs”—clean air,
clean water, sanitation, and healthy environment,
among others—to the right to benet from access
to nature and the wealth of educational, recre-
ational, developmental, and health benets that
come with ensuring protection of the environment
for children. As there are currently no prescribed
standards on the environmental rights of children,
we propose the development of an international
framework to establish national and international
minimum standards, leading to improved health,
quality of life, and the enjoyment of basic chil-
dren’s rights. e framework could be structured
similarly to the Paris Agreement, where signato-
ries committed to reducing global greenhouse gas
emissions, adapting to impacts of climate change,
and providing nancial assistance to developing
countries aected by a changing climate. More-
over, the framework could draw from the revised
 Sustainable Development Goals, which have
encouraged the participation of youth in achieving
the goals.
For those who believe the existing multilateral
environmental agreements or human rights agree-
ment would render such a framework redundant,
we remind the reader that there is currently no
international agreement that sets the standard for
children per se as the beneciaries of global envi-
ronmental standards, rights, and safeguards.
Advocacy
ere is arguably a need for national movements
to progressively augment international lawmaking
in the area of children’s environmental rights. e
rst step in achieving such a movement requires
the involvement of proactive citizens to encour-
age national governments to represent children
at international negotiations. However, in order
to ensure that citizens are proactive, eective dia-
logue must occur between them and their national
governments. According to James Blake, tensions
have arisen among the various stakeholders in-
volved in environmental rights protection due to
the “value-action gap,” when people do something
dierent than what they said they would do.
Representation is dierent from participa-
tion with respect to political movements. ere
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
JUNE 2019 VOLUME 21 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal 211
have been cases where national governments have
empowered children to voice their concerns over
social issues during parliamentary hearings and
consultative processes on policy. In most of these
cases, children do not have the right to exercise
political power. India, however, allows children to
exercise political power through children-based
parliaments that were established in the s.
Here, child representatives have made changes to
improve educational policies and incorporate bet-
ter community services in their villages. Success
stories like these can be a good model for other
countries, even if not all countries have the same
capacity to establish child parliaments. us, the
rst step is for citizens to be more responsive to the
needs of children, ensuring that their power, strug-
gles, and vulnerabilities are taken into account
and recognized as “diverse social experiences.”
rough citizens’ response to the diverse experi-
ences of children, governments can be inuenced
to represent children and develop agreements that
address their specic needs.
e international community also has a re-
sponsibility to all children and not just those within
their borders. To this end, the global commons
should work together for the eective implemen-
tation of said agreement. Here, we can employ
established principles of environmental law, such as
the principle of common but dierentiated respon-
sibilities, again mirroring the Paris Agreement,
with nations working collectively to equitably
create and implement environmental rights for
children. Countries that have historically caused
more environmental harm (from which they have
benetted economically) would provide economic
and capacity-building support to nations that are
facing challenges, yet the environmental rights of
children would be the common objective: reassert-
ing moral obligations toward current and future
generations of children, while also benetting the
environment. is approach demands the practical
implementation of measures at the national level,
investment, and regular monitoring and reporting
on measures and standards. A central international
secret ariat could oversee prog ress, requiring re ports
of health-related data correlated with environmen-
tal measures, for example. To save resources at the
national level, the national competent reporting
authority could be the same body that reports to
other relevant supranational organizations, such as
the World Health Organization. Nongovernmental
organizations and civil society groups could play a
role as well, in the absence of national political will.
Concluding recommendations
One of the rst steps is to incorporate children’s
environmental rights within every country’s polit-
ical agenda by adding well-dened environmental
rights for children as separate provisions in laws and
policies. Furthermore, the policy recommendations
outlined above can be eectively implemented only
through collaborative awareness and funding. One
of the ways in which funding can be secured is by
taxing the corporations that directly or indirectly
cause harm to children through their unsustainable
practices. is would require regulatory monitor-
ing and enforcement, as companies may arguably
avoid taxes and accountability for their actions
through tax havens, transfer pricing, and other
loopholes in existing policies. Rules could be
enforced through the suspension of licenses,
prosecutions, legal instruments, and community
pressure. It should be noted that community
pressure would require communication among a
myriad of stakeholders to endorse a truly inter-
disciplinary approach to children’s environmental
rights protection. Where public funds are lacking,
there are some organizations that can help fund
international children-related projects through
private and philanthropic investment. Examples of
these organizations include the Education for De-
velopment Foundation, Child Health Foundation,
and the Global Fund for Children, which aim to
support initiatives proposed by nongovernmental
organizations and the general public.
International awareness should urgently be
promoted through campaigns targeted toward
guardians of children (this can include children
themselves, parents and caregivers specically, and
schools, politicians, and communities more widely)
in order to demonstrate how environmental harm
k.e. makuch, s. zaman, and m. r. aczel / papers, 203-214
212 JUNE 2019 VOLUME 10 NUMBER 1 Health and Human Rights Journal
directly aects children. Awareness raising would
not only enhance children’s connection with na-
ture by rooting it within local social and cultural
contexts but also help the wider international
community move toward a future that promotes
the protection of children’s environmental rights.
us, it is through positive development, whether
through nature or nurture, that the children of
today can enjoy their environmental rights and
ensure the same for the children of tomorrow.
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... Moreover, the data provided has been checked and there are normal observations. [12]Child-friendly data services which can be form of an understanding corner, library, provincial data administration, etc, which provide data according needs and age of child. [13]There is a youth association. ...
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... Lewis (2021) in her study on climate litigation, provides concrete examples of how the climate crisis impacts directly on children's rights, for example food insecurity due to temperature rises and changing rainfall patterns, susceptibility to water-and vector-borne diseases, mental health implications, and the amplification of existing socio-economic inequalities. Makuch et al. (2019) also provide a comprehensive analysis of the link between environmental rights and child well-being, including four key benefits of environmental rights, namely health and wellbeing, education and awareness, resilient communities, and ecosystem services. They argue that per the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, children should be recognized as distinct recipients of environmental rights as defined by the United Nations Environment Program. ...
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Chapter
The Right to Life under International Law offers the first-ever comprehensive treatment under international law of the foundational human right to life. It describes the history, content, and status of the right, considers jurisdictional issues, and discusses the application of the right to a wide range of groups, such as women, children, persons with disabilities, members of minorities, LGBTI persons, refugees, and journalists. It defines the responsibility of not only governments but also the private sector, armed groups, and non-governmental organisations to respect the prohibition on arbitrary deprivation of life. It also explains the nature and substance of the duty to investigate potentially unlawful death as well as the mechanisms at global and regional level to promote respect for the right to life.
Chapter
The Right to Life under International Law offers the first-ever comprehensive treatment under international law of the foundational human right to life. It describes the history, content, and status of the right, considers jurisdictional issues, and discusses the application of the right to a wide range of groups, such as women, children, persons with disabilities, members of minorities, LGBTI persons, refugees, and journalists. It defines the responsibility of not only governments but also the private sector, armed groups, and non-governmental organisations to respect the prohibition on arbitrary deprivation of life. It also explains the nature and substance of the duty to investigate potentially unlawful death as well as the mechanisms at global and regional level to promote respect for the right to life.
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Chapter
Children are usually excluded from the process of drafting legislation. In theory, they can participate when laws are tabled for debate and passage; however, parliament is not designed to accommodate their needs. The focus of this chapter is a project that facilitated children’s input into the drafting of the Children’s Act and the subsequent Children’s Amendment Act in South Africa from 2003 to 2007. The Dikwankwetla – Children in Action project involved twelve children from four provinces of South Africa. The children participated in the parliamentary hearings and public debates and were encouraged to make the most of other advocacy opportunities, with the result that they, together with a range of civil society stakeholders, influenced the provisions in the final Acts.
Chapter
Today’s children are growing up in an age of global environmental concern yet amidst important differences in household, regional- and country-level exposures to environmental hazards. This chapter draws on data generated through multi-method PhD research in varied socio-economic contexts within India and England to analyse the discursive and embodied ways that children come into contact with, make sense of and assess their agency to address “global” environmental concerns in situated contexts. It argues that children’s situated experiences and interpretations trouble a binary between global and local concerns, demonstrating how forms of environmental vulnerability map onto wider socio-spatial vulnerabilities while revealing overarching similarities in the ways that children’s structural positioning affects their agency to speak and act. The chapter presents children’s local-global environmental concerns as an area of enquiry with ample potential to progress what Punch (Glob Stud Child 6(3):352–364, 2016) describes as “cross-world” childhood scholarship.
Chapter
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Children growing up today are confronted by four difficult and intersecting challenges: dangerous environmental change, weakening democracies, growing social inequality, and a global economy marked by unprecedented youth unemployment and unsustainable resource extraction. Yet on streets everywhere, there is also a strong, youthful energy for change.