Guiding Principles for Children on the Move in the Context of Climate Change

Recommendations for safeguarding the rights and well-being of children regardless of their location or migration status


There is currently no global policy framework for addressing the needs and rights of children moving in the context of climate change. Where child-related migration policies do exist, they do not consider climate and environmental factors, and where climate change policies exist they usually overlook children’s needs.

The Guiding Principles have been developed to safeguard the rights and well-being of children moving in the context of climate change, and are as follows:

Principle 1: Rights-based approach
Principle 2: Best interests of the child
Principle 3: Accountability
Principle 4: Awareness and participation in decision-making
Principle 5: Family unity
Principle 6: Protection, safety and security
Principle 7: Access to education, health care and social services
Principle 8: Non-discrimination
Principle 9: Nationality

These Guiding Principles are intended to be used by local and national governments, international organizations and civil society groups working with children on the move in the context of climate change. They are based on existing international law as well as operational guidelines or frameworks which have been developed by a variety of stakeholders. The Principles are derived from the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and do not create new international legal obligations.

Public consultation

In order to make these Guiding Principles as relevant and effective as possible, we invited stakeholders to review a draft version and submit comments by June 10, 2022. (See privacy notice.) Public consultation on the draft is now closed. Feedback received during the consultation period helped refine and strengthen the final Guiding Principles report.

Publication cover: Illustration of a child being held and protected by an adult
UNICEF; International Organization for Migration; Georgetown University, Institute for the Study of International Migration; United Nations University, Center for Policy Research
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