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UN Issues First–of-its-kind Guidance Affirming Children’s Right to Clean, Healthy Environment

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First-of-its kind UN guidance calls for climate action by States to protect children’s rightsOn 28th August 2023, The United Nations (UN) Committee on the Rights of the Child issued new guidelines ,formally known as General Comment No. 26(2023),which calls for the governments of the member states to take action to protect the children’s rights against the increasing climate crisis.

  • This marks the first time the committee has affirmed Children’s rights to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
  • During its 93rd session, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child has officially adopted General Comment No. 26 (2023).


i.The guidance was adopted after 2 rounds of consultation with States, national human rights institutions, international organizations, civil society, thematic experts and children.

ii.The Committee received contributions from 16,331 children across 121 countries on the negative effects of environmental degradation and climate change on their lives and communities.

About the guidelines:

The guidelines provide a comprehensive interpretation of State obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which has been ratified by 196 countries.

  • The treaty, adopted in 1989, outlines children’s rights, including life, health, clean drinking water, and survival and development.

Key Points:

i.The guidelines instruct members to take all appropriate, necessary ,and reasonable measures to protect the children’s rights against the harms related to climate change.

ii.The guidelines also encourage member nations to progressively phase out the utilization of coal, oil, and natural gas, while ensuring a fair and equitable transition to renewable energy sources.

iii.This promotes the establishment of an inclusive early warning system to protect children from the impacts of extreme weather.

iv.The committee emphasizes that developed countries should offer grants, rather than loans, to developing nations for climate change mitigation, bridging the climate finance gap.

Effects of the climate crisis on children:

i.Environmental degradation and climate change threaten the future of children across the globe(including India).

ii.A recent study highlighted that reducing carbon emissions can prevent 4,000 to 6,000 child deaths due to heat in Africa every year.

iii.Globally, around 12 million children were displaced in 2022 due to extreme weather events.

About The Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC): 
CRC is the body of 18 independent experts that monitors the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by its States parties.
Chair– Ann Marie Skelton (South Africa)
Headquarters– Geneva, Switzerland