Strengthening Intergenerational Equity at the Ocean-Climate Nexus: Reflections on the UNCRC General Comment No.26

By Elisa Morgera & Mitchell Lennan

“The 2021 Glasgow Climate Pact brought the ocean into the international climate regime, and the 2022 Sharm el-Sheikh COP27 of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) has finally ushered the world into a special fund to respond to loss and damage associated with the adverse effects of climate change, including on the human rights of present and future generations. But much remains to be clarified about how ocean-based mitigation, adaptation, finance and technology will contribute to inter-generational equity.

To shed light on these issues, this article starts from the premise that the ocean is an essential but little-understood component of the interdependency between climate change and human rights. It is followed by an exploration of the importance of a healthy ocean for children’s human rights as a way to advance inter-generational equity under the 30-year-old (1992–2022) UNFCCC through systemic interpretation.

The upcoming General Comment on children’s rights and the environment with a special focus on climate change (General Comment No. 26) by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child presents an opportunity to clarify the role of existing international human rights obligations in strengthening intergenerational equity at the climate-ocean interface on the basis of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This appears vital to ensure coordination across intergovernmental bodies and national government departments to safeguard ocean-dependent children’s human rights through climate policy and action at different levels…”