Today the Human Rights Council, during the 34th Regular Session, hosted a Panel discussion on climate change and the rights of the child. The Mary Robinson Foundation – Climate Justice welcomes the continued dedication of the Human Rights Council to Climate Justice through its programme of annual panel discussions which continue to highlight the links between human rights and climate change. The Foundation believes the Panel will be a significant step to developing a better understanding of how climate change, and climate change mitigation and adaptation activities, impacts the rights of children, who represent some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
The Foundation was heartened by the participation of a child, Kehkashan Basu, founder of the NGO the ‘Green Hope Foundation’ on the panel. Her valuable contribution continued to demonstrate the need for international processes to include the voices of those groups most impacted by climate change in discussions on policy solutions. Kehkashan Basu said “To protect the rights of children the first and most important step would be to allow us to speak for ourselves”.
Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division, OHCHR who said that there is need for the current generations to be good stewards of the planet for future generations. Marilena Vivani, Director UNICEF Geneva Liaison Office called said there was a need to build a climate literate generation given the cross cutting nature of the climate change challenge.
A number of States, including Canada on behalf of the Francophone group of countries, Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, Kirgizstan and France drew the link between protecting the rights of children now and delivering a just world for future generations. The protection of future generations is a key element of the Foundation’s work and at the core of the climate justice message. Policy developed with future generations in mind will benefit humanity and ensure the successful and sustainable realisation of Agenda 2030, the Paris Agreement and related international and domestic processes. The Foundation hopes that the Human Rights Council and the wider international community will grasp the momentum delivered by the Panel discussion to develop systems that will act as guardians for future generations.