Protecting children’s rights at the ocean-climate nexus
impact story overview
The ONE OCEAN HUB was the first and continues to be the leading international authoritative voice speaking to the need to protect children’s human rights that are dependent on a healthy ocean. Children’s rights and their effective realisation are the foundations for a sustainable future and attaining all human rights (UN Human Rights Commission, 2016 and 2020).
Ocean degradation is clearly a major threat to the protection and enjoyment of children’s human rights. Despite this, ocean health has largely been overlooked in research, and seminal UN reports on children’s right to a healthy environment do not even mention the ocean (see our brief SDG14 and Children’s Human Rights). The Hub is working to rectify this lack of attention.
In 2021, the Hub published early research findings in a policy brief aimed at human rights lawyers, government representatives, and civil society engaged in discussion on children’s rights and the environment (Sweeney and Morgera, 2021). The brief urged readers to consider the unique role of a healthy ocean in protecting and fully realising children’s human rights.
Following our publication and dissemination of this brief, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) invited us to join the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI). CERI is an international multi-stakeholder platform working to ensure that children’s rights are placed at the centre of environmental decision-making and action. The platform was established under the auspices of the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment. It includes other Hub partners such as UNEP, WWF, UNICEF, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Save the Children.
We urge investment in co-developing nature-based solutions as a way to support the protection of children’s human rights.
PROF ELISA MORGERA, ONE OCEAN HUB DIRECTOR
Discussions around children’s rights to the environment often seem primarily focused on climate adaptation. The Hub advocates for a more integrated approach to the triple crises of climate, biodiversity, and pollution, including from toxins and plastics.
DR MITCHELL LENNAN, UNIVERSITY OF ABERDEEN, UK
The Hub was also invited to become a member of the Working Group on Children’s Rights and the Environment, led by Child Rights Connect. The Working Group is focused on: influencing relevant processes at the UN, particularly the work of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on environmental matters; mainstreaming children’s rights in key human rights and environmental frameworks and processes; and encouraging and supporting the reporting of children’s rights violations in relation to degradation of the environment.
Both CERI and the Working Group are widely respected, and their actions carry significant weight in international policy communities. We’ve seen how bringing our focus on the ocean to these powerful coalitions has amplified our research-based findings and recommendations.
We have quickly achieved notable impact on international policy- and law-making processes informing international ocean and climate governance. Read how the Hub informed the new UN General Comment 26 on children’s rights and the environment with a special focus on climate change.
The Hub is also contributing to changing how UN Agencies and civil society organisations engage within the climate change framework. Read more on our impacts on climate talks, including efforts to strengthen children’s participation in international processes, bring attention to nature-based solutions, and highlight the role of the ocean in meeting children’s human rights.
We advocate for environmental education and have developed educational modules with international reach.Read how the Hub has partnered with UNEP to co-develop a suite of international e-learning and awareness-raising tools as part of UNEP’s InforMEA Initiative. Each of these learning courses discuss or relate to children’s human rights. The Hub has also co-developed a UN e-learning course for 13- to 15-year-olds on children’s rights to a healthy environment. ‘Our Rights, Our Planet – stand up for the environment’ was launched in 2022 and includes Hub resources.
At the national level, we are developing innovative approaches to inter-generational research and supporting dialogue that seeks to centre children’s human rights in decision-making processes on the ocean and climate change.
- Read about the Hub’s work in South Africa on the play Umkhosi Wenala (“Festival of Abundance”). Co-developed with young actors and artists, the production aims to create an innovative participatory decision-making space where rural youth can have a voice in the creation and management of Marine Protected Areas.
- Read how, in Namibia, Hub researchers are collaborating with the Topnaar community in a youth-led, arts-based research initiative that will involve inter-generational story-telling and traditional dances.
Explore key dates so far
22 August 2023
New UN General Comment on Children’s Rights and a Healthy Environment released: here
Maastricht Principles on the Human Rights of Future Generations published found here
15 February 2023
Deadline for submission of comments on the zero draft found here.
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
Ocean included in UNEP course for 13-15 years old on Children’s Human Rights and a Healthy Ocean
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
The Hub is invited to join the Core Group of Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI)
Young people’s voices at Glasgow Climate COP emphasize the ocean-climate nexus
The One Ocean Hub starts raising awareness of the inter-dependence of children’s human rights and a healthy ocean
- J Knox and E Morgera, “Human rights and the environment: The interdependence of human rights and a healthy environment in the context of national legislation on natural resources” (2022), FAO Legal Paper 109, Read here.
- E Morgera, “Biodiversity as a human right and its implications for the EU’s external action” (2020). Report to the European Parliament, requested by European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Human Rights, Read here.
- M Lennan and E Morgera, “The Glasgow Climate Conference (COP26)” (2022), 37 The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law 137-151, Read here.
- E Morgera, M Sweeney and S Shields “SDG14 and Children’s Human Rights” (2022), Read here.
- E Morgera and M Lennan, “Strengthening intergenerational equity at the ocean-climate nexus: Reflections on the UNCRC General Comment No 26” (2022), 52 Environmental Policy and Law 445-459. Read here.
- M Strand, S Shields, E Morgera, D McGarry, AMSN Lancaster, L Brown, and B Snow, “Protecting children’s rights to development and culture by re-imagining ‘ocean literacies’” (International Journal of Children’s Rights, under review).
- S Shields, A Longo, E Morgera, and M Strand, “Children’s human right to be heard at the ocean-climate nexus” (2023), The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (published online ahead of print 2023), Read here.