Unicef ​​calls for a debate on climate change from the rights of the child

Unicef ​​calls for a debate on climate change from the rights of the child

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By Patrizia Faustini *

Today the world faces great challenges such as the eradication of poverty, conflict and discrimination. The majority of the Earth's inhabitants do not have access to decent living conditions or the protection of their fundamental rights. How is climate change related to these issues? How to make the rights of future generations our priority?

The challenge must be considered a priority and calls for urgent action. Perhaps the time has come to consider climate change as a global phenomenon of intergenerational justice.

The actions taken, or rather, the lack of action in the face of this challenge, is a form of injustice that feeds on inequalities and perpetuates them. It also exposes those least responsible for the phenomenon of climate change to the obligation to pay a high price in the coming decades. Future generations will have no choice but to face the injustices that the current generation is creating.

The concept of climate change leads us to seek a balance between the rights and claims of current and future citizens. The ethical construction of intergenerational justice can provide solutions to highly relevant issues such as resource governance, children's rights, and environmental sustainability.

A recent report by UNICEF's Innocenti Research Center entitled “The Challenges of Climate Change: Children on the front line” presents revealing results that help us address this important challenge of our time.

Climate change threatens the rights of children as it endangers their fundamental condition: our planet. Human action has long exerted pressure on limits without being able to predict the consequences that these actions will leave for future generations. In a world like today's, where the world itself is in danger, perhaps the time has come to put the idea of ​​intergenerational justice on the table.

Weather forecasts cannot predict consequences beyond the year 2100, so some skeptics argue that the future is too far to worry about. However, from the perspective of children's rights, reducing uncertainty is reason enough to fight for the full recognition and exercise of these rights. Children are the largest population group and vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.
According to various experts, 80 percent of climate-related deaths in developing countries are children. Furthermore, with each new climate disaster, children's rights continue to be threatened. Responding adequately to these events would imply applying child-centered adaptation and mitigation measures that take into account the rights of children, which implies expanding the current perspective framed in the present to consider the consequences in the future.

There is also another good reason to understand climate change as an issue related to children's rights. By assuming the statement contained in the Convention on the Rights of the Child - they are rights holders - we must also recognize that they are a key actor in the process of recognition and action against climate change within their communities, as well as in taking measures. to face the challenges that this phenomenon imposes.
Children can contribute in a relevant way to the necessary global change in issues such as caring for the environment, managing resources and laying the foundations for the society of the future.

Today's children and young people make up that generation that will have to implement the significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions that will be essential in the coming decades. Despite this, this group remains deliberately ignored in high-level climate change discussions.

* Patrizia Faustini is a senior communicator at UNICEF's Innocenti Research Center.

Unicef ​​Blog:
Translated into Spanish by Maria Khoury Arvelo for IWGIA and SERVINDI.

Video: Greta and eight young activists reveal how the climate crisis is shaping their lives. UNICEF (May 2022).