Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action
A pledge by champion governments to uphold priorities identified by children and youth across the world.
In 2019, at the 25th Conference of the Parties (COP25) in Madrid, a group of world leaders joined youth activists in a historic moment — to sign an Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action. This is the first-of-its-kind commitment to accelerate inclusive, child and youth-centered climate policies and action at national and global levels.
As one of the custodians of the declaration, UNICEF works with governments to support its implementation. All Member States of the United Nations are invited to sign.
Considering that children face heightened and specific risks due to climate change, that these impacts are already occurring, and that the most disadvantaged and marginalized children bear the heaviest burden;
Acknowledging the global leadership and calls of children and young people for urgent and immediate climate action, as well as their critical role as agents of change;
Recalling the commitment made in Article 2 of the Paris Agreement to limit the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels, as well as the global goal on adaptation in Article 7, recognizing that these commitments would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
Reaffirming the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and all human rights instruments relevant to the protection, promotion, respect and fulfilment of the human rights of all children and young people;
Recalling the Paris Agreement commitment by States to respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on human rights, including the rights of children, and intergenerational equity, when taking action to address climate change;
Recalling also Human Rights Council Resolutions 37/8, 35/20 and 40/11 which address the rights of children and young people with respect to environmental harm and climate change, and that a safe climate is a vital element of the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and is essential to human life and well-being;
COMMIT, THERFORE, to consider:
1. Advocating for global recognition and fulfilment of children’s inalienable right to a healthy environment, and to take steps to enshrine this right where appropriate into national, regional and global frameworks and/or national policies and legislation;
2. Enhancing efforts to respect, promote and consider the rights of children and young people in implementation of the Paris Agreement at all levels, including recognition of their specific vulnerabilities, as well as their status as key stakeholders and implementers, in countries’ national climate adaptation and mitigation measures, Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Adaptation Plans (NAPs), and long-term greenhouse gas emissions development strategies, including consideration of the particular role and responsibilities of the private sector;
3. Scaling up and accelerating investment in child- and youth-responsive adaptation, disaster risk reduction and mitigation measures, cognizant of an urgent need to focus on reaching children most at risk, and advocate for child-sensitive criteria to be mainstreamed in multilateral funds;
4. Strengthening the capacity of children and young people on climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts by establishing and investing in climate change and environmental education, and equipping children and young people with the knowledge and skills required to protect themselves and contribute to a safe and sustainable future, ensuring that such efforts reach marginalized children and youth;
5. Enhancing the meaningful participation of children and youth in climate change processes, including through the Action for Climate Empowerment dialogue, by participating in the Youth Delegate Programme in the UNFCCC, and examining opportunities to meaningfully support YOUNGO priorities and the participation of young people, with a focus on the Global South;
6. Exploring measures to establish an international Commission for Children and Future Generations, as well as new or existing mechanisms at the national level to ensure the effective participation of children and youth in decision making on climate change;
7. Adopting institutional and administrative measures, as well as partnerships, at national and international levels to actively pursue the above objectives, and to enhance coherence and a cross-cutting focus on children and youth in climate action, including with respect to UNFCCC decision-making processes and workstreams, and implementation of the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.
Korean Parliamentarian Friends of UNICEF
Frequently asked questions
The Declaration was launched in December 2019 during COP25, at a high-level event convened by the COP25 Presidency of the Government of Chile in Madrid, Spain.
UNICEF, in collaboration with YOUNGO and the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative coalition (CERI), supported the Presidency, champion governments and young people from around the world to launch the Declaration in a bid to accelerate inclusive child- and youth-responsive climate policies and action at all levels. The Declaration is based on core priorities identified by YOUNGO members and children and youth globally.
The Declaration represents a first-of-its-kind set of commitments by States to consistently consider children’s specific needs, rights and perspectives in their climate policies and action at all levels. This comprehensive framework seeks to respond to the fact that that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis, while also recognizing the enormous capacity of children and youth to be powerful agents of change. It also seeks to address the widespread omission of children from climate policies, strategies and plans.
It is imperative that we put children at the heart of climate action and invest in practical solutions that protect children from the effects of climate change. Operationalizing the Declaration would have a transformative effect for children’s rights and our ability to meet both the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals.
The Declaration is based on priorities identified by children and youth themselves, and consensus on the text was reached by the champion governments that launched the Declaration in 2019. In 2021, feedback received from Member States was accepted by YOUNGO. The Declaration text is therefore considered closed at this stage, however an annex to the Declaration has been developed to provide additional context and guidance on each commitment, and which can be updated at more regular intervals.
Yes, an annex has been developed to provide supporting guidance for taking forward operationalization of the Declaration’s commitments. This guidance is intended to provide more context, information, and supporting resources/tools where available. It also seeks to address additional comments and suggestions received from signatory States to further strengthen certain dimensions of the Declaration. The guidance can be further updated. Please contact the UNICEF team for further information.
Signatories may wish to further adapt this guidance to the national level context in order to reflect existing priorities and initiatives. Such an exercise could provide an excellent opportunity for establishing or strengthening collaboration with relevant partners including child- and youth-led organizations and networks.
As co-custodians of the Declaration, UNICEF, YOUNGO and CERI partners stand ready to support your government to realize these commitments.
Your Government can sign by sending a scanned copy of the signed Declaration to email@example.com and the CERI Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org. You will receive a confirmation email from UNICEF.
You are also kindly invited to identify a focal point and contact details for follow-up.
Once confirmation is received, your Government will be included on the list of Member State signatories on the Declaration webpage of the co-custodians. We will announce your commitment on social media and showcase your alignment during key moments and events around the world. We invite you to announce this news through your own channels as well, using the hashtag #MyPlanetMyRights.
While alignment with the Declaration is a critical first step, this must be viewed as an opportunity to take stock and operationalize the commitments encompassed within the Declaration, at local, national, regional and international levels.
Signatory governments are invited to join a "High Ambition Coalition for Children" (HACC) with the aim of driving a significantly enhanced focus on the rights of children and young people to a safe climate and healthy environment moving forward in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, SDGs and other relevant policy processes. This is an exciting opportunity for progressive governments to work hand-in-hand with children and young people to realize more ambitious action that places the needs, wellbeing and perspectives of children and future generations at its heart.
It is envisaged that briefings will be convened in the margins of key multilateral events to discuss opportunities to collectively promote and fulfil Declaration commitments, and that signatories will be invited to participate in high-level events to celebrate progress, showcase best practice examples of implementation at the national level, and to call for further action.
Signatories are also encouraged to highlight their alignment with the Declaration and the action they are taking to operationalize its commitments through relevant decision-making processes and fora, and to advocate towards other countries to join.
Recognizing that the strongest way to fulfil child rights is through concrete and specific policy commitments to children at local and national levels, we hope that your alignment with the Declaration may inspire:
- Consultation and collaboration across relevant Ministries/Departments to ensure a whole-of-government, cross-sectoral approach to operationalization of the Declaration;
- Publicly announcing new and/or improved laws, policies or programmes that support the operationalization of commitments contained in the Declaration;
- Organizing a multi-stakeholder national summit or event on child- and youth-responsive climate policies and action, to promote awareness of the Declaration, showcase the work being done by your government, and identify a plan of action for next steps, with the participation of children and adolescents;
- Convening a parliamentary dialogue or debate on the Declaration and linking children’s rights, the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)s.
As your Government takes steps to operationalize the Declaration, please share developments and plans with us so that we can bring visibility to exemplary work. We encourage you to make the Declaration visible on your Government website, and to inform/engage relevant stakeholders, for example through events at the national level, as suggested above.
In addition, signatories are encouraged to include information with respect to the Declaration and its implementation through relevant policies and reporting processes such as Nationally Determined Contributions, National Adaptation Plans, national Action for Climate Empowerment strategies, UNFCCC national communications, the SDG Voluntary National Review mechanism, Universal Periodic Review, and reporting to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.