Ocean and children’s human rights at the Bonn Climate Conference

By Senia Febrica

For the fourth year in a row, One Ocean Hub participated in the Bonn Climate Conference. This blogpost reflects on the Hub’s contributions to the preparations of the first children’s dialogue at an international climate meeting, and discussions on the ocean-climate nexus.

The Bonn Climate Conference encompasses the intersessional meeting of subsidiary bodies under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) – the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice and the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, and was held in Bonn, Germany from 3–13 June 2024.

Integrating children’s distinct needs and perspectives in the climate process

During the Bonn Climate Conference, the Hub participated in the first “Expert Dialogue on children and climate change” on 4 June 2024. The dialogue marks an historic milestone, “as the first instance in the 30-year history of the Convention in which the acute vulnerabilities of children are considered under the process”  (see UNICEF, 2024).

(Left to right) Matt frost (plymouth marine laboratory), H. E. Julio Cordano (UNFCCC ocean & climate change dialogue, co-lead, chile) , J. Post (IOC UNESCO) – photo: Mitchell lennan

As part of the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative, the Hub collaborated with a team of experts, policymakers and young people from around the world who have long advocated for mainstreaming the consideration of children’s needs, voices and human rights in the international climate change process.

In support of the preparations of the dialogue, One Ocean Hub submitted evidence to the Chair of the Subsidiary Body for Implementation, which was based on the Hub’s article on children’s right to be heard. The submission was prepared by Hub researchers Senia Febrica (University of Strathclyde, UK); Buhle Francis (Nelson Mandela University, South Africa); Alana Malinde S.N. Lancaster, (University of the West Indies, Barbados); Stuart Jeffrey (Glasgow School of Art, UK); and Georgina Yaa Oduro (University of Cape Coast, Ghana)

ocean literacies poster exhibited at bonn – photo: mitchell lennan

In addition, the Hub participated in the “Poster exhibition: Action for climate empowerment Gallery” that took place on 4 June 2024. The poster “ocean literacies to unlock transformative climate solutions” was prepared by Mia Strand (Nelson Mandela University, University of Strathclyde & Ocean Nexus) and Senia Febrica with the support of Sarah Lewis and Laura Merilainen (University of Strathclyde). The poster proposed recommendations for re-imagining ocean literacies as a way to protect children’s rights to education, development, culture and a healthy environment. It is based on a paper titled “Protecting Children’s Rights to Development and Culture by Re-Imagining ‘Ocean Literacies’” co-authored by Mia Strand and other Hub researchers. For more information read the paper here and the Policy Brief : 10 Key Messages for Reimagining Ocean Literacies that Consider Children’s Human Rights to Development and Culture here.

Advancing interlinkages between the ocean-climate nexus, biodiversity, and human rights

The Hub collaborated with partners to co-organise a side-event titled “Ocean-Climate-Society & Conventions: Adaptation, Mitigation & Governance Opportunities & Challenges” on 11 June 2024.

side event at Bonn: ‘Ocean-Climate-Society & Conventions: Adaptation, Mitigation & Governance Opportunities & Challenges’ – photo: mitchell lennan
photo: mitchell lennan
Photo: mitchell lennan at Bonn

Hub researcher Mitchell Lennan (University of Aberdeen, UK) delivered introductory remarks on “Supporting human rights across the conventions.” He reflected on the Advisory Opinion of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea, underscoring how it clarifies both State obligations and internationally unlawful actions at the ocean-climate nexus. Mitchell underscored the need to apply international human rights law at the ocean-climate change- biodiversity nexus across different international processes such as the Climate COP, the Biodiversity COP, and High Seas Treaty.

The side-event was led by Plymouth Marine Laboratory in collaboration with the Hub, the Government of Chile, Connecticut State University System, WorldFish, and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.


In the run-up to the UN Climate COP29 (11-22 November 2024, Baku, Azerbaijan), One Ocean Hub will continue to collaborate closely with civil society, governments and UN partners to shine a light on the importance of human rights at the ocean-climate nexus, with a focus on children’s human rights.

‘messages for cop28’ – Graphic recording of Bonn 2024, by Stéphanie Heckman & Hazel Hurley – photo: mitchell lennan

Related SDGs:

  • Good health and well-being
  • Reduced inequality
  • Sustainable cities and communities
  • Climate action
  • Life below water