Children’s right to a healthy ocean

All of children’s human rights depend on a healthy ocean. Therefore, ocean degradation is a major threat to the protection and enjoyment of children’s human rights. We need to refrain from carrying out or permitting activities that may lead to marine biodiversity loss or degradation of the ocean’s healthy, as they will result in foreseeable negative impacts on children’s rights to life, survival, development, health, culture and play.

But how the ocean and children’s human rights are connected remains very unexplored, and is not considered explicitly in many UN documents.

Our research indicates that:

• Children’s human rights need to be at the heart of inclusive and integrated ocean governance

• Any decision on the ocean should be fair across generations to ensure long-term protection of the marine environment for the benefit of all.

• Children should be listened to in the current negotiations on climate, plastics, deep-seabed mining, and marine biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction

• There is an urgent need to develop child-friendly information on the ocean and climate, and to develop procedures for youth to take part in relevant decisions

• Education needs to include the ocean as part of the global climate biodiversity and toxics crisis to empower children to take action.

We aim to:

• work with children and young people to amplify their voices in ocean governance at all scales;

• clarify the responsibility of States and businesses to ensure that their decision, activities and policies on ocean conservation and sustainable use should systematically consider potential impacts on children’s human rights;

• engage human rights experts that are already engaged in international initiatives on children’s human rights, a healthy environment and climate change to consider the role of a healthy ocean for protecting and fully realizing children’s human rights;

• engage other researchers that are already engaged in on the relationship between a healthy environment, climate change and children’s human rights should consider the importance of the ocean for the protection of these rights;

• work with educators to ensure that the importance of a healthy ocean for children’s rights is included in decolonised ocean literacy and education initiatives, with a view to promoting greater participation of children in ocean decision-making processes and conservation initiatives.

Explore key dates so far

  1. 15 February 2023

    Deadline for submission of comments on the zero draft found here.

  2. 15 November 2022

    Zero draft of the UN General Comment on Children’s Human Rights and a Healthy Environment includes a reference to the marine environment

  3. July 2022

    Ocean included in UNEP course for 13-15 years old on Children’s Human Rights and a Healthy Ocean

  4. March- August 2022

    The Hub provides inputs on the importance of a healthy ocean to the first round of consultations on the UN General Comment on Children’s Human Rights and a Healthy Environment

  5. January 2022

    The Hub is invited to join the Core Group of Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI)

  6. November 2021

    Young people’s voices at Glasgow Climate COP emphasize the ocean-climate nexus

  7. July 2021

    The One Ocean Hub starts raising awareness of the inter-dependence of children’s human rights and a healthy ocean

Overview of our activities

Early research findings

  • July 2021: Start raising awareness about the inter-dependence of children’s human rights and a healthy ocean, see here
  • Our report on SDG 14 and children’s rights, see here
  • June 2022: Submission to UN Special Rapporteur on Climate Change, see here
  • Importance of children’s participation in biodiversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ), see here
  • Importance of children’s participation in the International Seabed Authority (ISA), see here
  • UNEP info-sheets on children’s rights and ocean plastics, see here
Artwork: Margherita Brunori

Capacity building

  • December 2021: An innovative ocean literacy project launches a website and a-childrens-activity-book, see here
  • June 2022: Develop capacity of human rights experts to address children’s rights and a healthy ocean, see here
  • June 2022: ocean and children’s rights at Global Youth Biodiversity Network’s side event at UN Ocean Conference, see here
  • July 2022: ocean included in UNEP course for 13-15 years old Children’s Human Rights and a Healthy Ocean, see here
Artwork: Margherita Brunori

Supporting Children and young people at the ocean-climate nexus

  • November 2021: Support young people’s voices at Glasgow Climate COP on ocean-climate nexus, see here
  • May 2022: Recommendation on ocean-climate funding and children’s priority needs at Bonn meeting, see here
  • Contributed submissions, see here
Artwork: Margherita Brunori

Contributions to UN policy development

  • The Hub provides inputs to the initial development of the UN General Comment on Children’s Human Rights and a Healthy Environment
    • Consultation on right to education
    • Consultation on biodiversity, see here
    • Conference with UN Committee on Children’s Rights members; see here
    • Consultation on right to a healthy environment: see here
    • Questionnaire

 

Artwork: Margherita Brunori

Partnerships

  • January 2022: The Hub is invited to join the Core Group of the international Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI), to contribute to the development of the UN General Comment, as well as capacity-building activities
  • November 2022: The Hub has partnered with The PeaceBoat and Sustainable Ocean Alliance (SOA) to support youth voices at UN Climate Summits, see here
  • August 2022: The Hub has joined the Working Group on children’s rights to a healthy environment convened by Child Rights Connect (CRC), to contribute to monitoring by international human rights bodies

Voices from local children

The sea can invade our homes, especially at midnight when we are sleeping. We the children are the ones being affected mostly by the tidal waves so we might be able to suggest solutions to solve these problems.

Watch Camila’s video message from COP27 here

Camila, 12 years old, Kedzi, Ghana

I wouldn’t want to see a future where our children’s children or our children won’t be able to experience the ocean like we have. If we continue the way we are going, we will pollute the ocean, we will pollute the land around the ocean. And that will destroy it.

Yaseen, 18 years old, Gqeberh, South Africa

Artwork: Margherita Brunori