Children’s Rights to a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment in the ASEAN Region
Principles and Policy Guidance
Children and youth are key agents of change in tackling the climate and environmental crisis, which risks undoing decades of progress fighting for children’s basic rights. Although they are often not given space to participate in making decisions about their environment, children and youth are increasingly raising their voices because they understand that environmental emergencies are issues of intergenerational justice. The needs and priorities of children and youth cannot be ignored in an inclusive approach to addressing the climate and environmental crisis.
Children, especially from the most vulnerable and marginalized backgrounds, are more exposed to and disproportionately impacted by all kinds of environmental harm than any other group, despite being the least responsible for it. Almost every child on earth is exposed to at least one form of climate and environmental hazard, shock or stress, affecting their ability to realise to the fullest the rights guaranteed to them. The climate crisis and biodiversity loss are threats that will transform childhood and jeopardize a sustainable future for children and future generations globally. It is vital for children to realise their rights to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
This document sets out fundamental principles for realizing children’s rights to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and for putting the best interests of children at the center of initiatives by all segments of society in Southeast Asia. It was developed through a consultative process with experts in the fields of child rights and environmental issues, including children and youth from across the region. The document provides essential policy guidance for governments, civil society, businesses, the media, and children to implement the principles.
The Principles and Policy Guidance on Children’s Rights to a Safe, Clean, Healthy and Sustainable Environment in the ASEAN Region is a collaboration between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), and Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights).