Protection of children from hazardous chemicals needs to be urgently advanced, warn World Future Council and UNITAR on the occasion of the World Environment Day
Since 2014 our programme ‘The Rights of Children and Youth’ has been working to ensure that the rights of girls, boys and young people are upheld and supported so that they may reach their full potential. Our team has focused on the topics of child protection, education for sustainable development, youth empowerment and championing the rights of young people to grow up in a healthy environment. It is the duty of each state to support these rights and we have been highlighting some of the exemplary policy solutions from around the world helping to make this happen. We have promoted the spread of impactful laws by enabling key stakeholders from different countries to come together and exchange good practice. Alongside these field trips and knowledge sharing events we have developed practical tools for action.
During the World Leaders Summit on Climate on 22 and 23 April 2021 US- President Biden announced the ambitious 2030 emissions target as the new contribution of the USA under the Paris Agreement and urged the other 40 world leaders to contribute also to stronger climate ambition.
The vision of the World Future Council is to pass on a just and sustainable planet to future generations. Therefore, it is our duty to protect our children and grandchildren. Our team works in the field of child protection on the topics of protecting children and their rights, protecting children from (sexual) violence, and protecting children’s health.
Protecting Children from (sexual) violence
Children’s exposure to increased protection risks has been heightened by the global COVID-19 pandemic in Africa and worldwide. We work on proven solutions for child protection measures in the African context and discussed the potential of the One Stop Centre model in our latest webinar, in helping address violence against girls, boys and young women. Most of the mitigating measures adopted by many countries to address the pandemic have resulted in disruptions to the everyday routines, environment and safety of children. The One Stop Centre model as an intervention tool has been proven to be among the most effective response measures in the area of child protection. In 2015 the renowned Future Policy Award awarded Zanzibar’s Children’s Act with its comprehensive child protection system.
Report: Advancing Institutional Child Protection
Every child should be living free from violence. However, we have known for decades that violence is a common reality affecting children in our societies throughout the world. With the impact of the Covid 19 pandemic, increasing migration, and conflicts, this reality has grown to an even greater dimension putting many families under immense pressure. Protecting children from violence is one of the main working areas of the World Future Council. That’s why, we have launched a new policy handbook for advancing institutional child protection. On the following pages, you can find more about the One-Stop Centre model (OSC).
We face a dramatic number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals as well as air, water and soil pollution and contamination. This is impacting present and future generations as well as our environment. It is therefore absolutely critical that we strengthen the sound management of chemicals and waste – through inclusive, effective, inspiring and innovative laws and policies. More ambitious worldwide action by all stakeholders is urgently required. This is why in 2021, the Future Policy Award is dedicated to the most effective policy solutions that minimise the adverse effects of exposure to chemicals on human health, with a focus on children’s health, and the environment. The Award will highlight that solutions do exist; solutions that are ambitious and impactful.
Report: A healthy planet for healthy children
With this new report “A Healthy Planet for Healthy Children”, the World Future Council (WFC) and the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) together aim to draw attention to the “silent pandemic” of disability and disease associated with exposure to hazardous chemicals and pollution during childhood, by providing key facts on how hazardous chemicals affect children’s health.
Handout: A healthy planet for healthy children
In 2011, Maryland became the first U.S. state to make environmental literacy a mandatory high-school graduation requirement with the introduction of Environmental Literacy (E-Lit) Standards. Each of Maryland’s 24 local education authorities (LEA) now provide a holistic programme of environmental education content and activities taught from kindergarten to high-school and integrated across a wide range of subjects throughout the curriculum.
Maryland was recognised for this pioneering mandate and its successful implementation with a silver Future Policy Award in 2015. We held an international conference and field trip in October 2016 that brought together legislators from 16 environment and education ministries from around the world to learn from Maryland and exchange good practice on ESD. Since then we have steadily expanded our knowledge on the policy and practice of Education for Sustainable Development. The outcomes of our field trip have been distilled and supplemented with research, case studies, field visits, a literature review and interviews with international ESD experts. All this new learning has been brought together in our new handbook ‘Advancing Education for Sustainable development’. This publication explores some of the central success factors in policy, process and practice in some of the pioneering countries and contexts where ESD is being effectively embraced. It examines some of the major trends, case studies and challenges in introducing a more holistic, progressive, hands-on education.
Given the huge challenges the world faces, it is clear that we need to teach, learn and live in a fundamentally different manner. Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is increasingly recognised as playing a central role in empowering learners of all ages to positively respond to local and global challenges and act in a more peaceful, just, inclusive and sustainable manner. This approach is already helping people develop the skills, values and attitudes necessary to create more resilient societies and transition towards the skilled, green, low-carbon economies of the future.
This handbook explores some of the central success factors in policy, process and practice in some of the pioneering countries and contexts where Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is being effectively embraced.
Child participation is one of the core principles of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Article 12 asserts that children and young people have the right to freely express their views and that there is an obligation to listen to children’s views and to facilitate their participation in all matters affecting them within the family, schools, local communities, public services, government policy, and judicial procedures.
Zanzibar’s Children’s Act is a pioneering comprehensive child rights law which lays the foundation for a coordinated child-protection system to protect and promote the rights of children. The Act serves as a promising model both for its drafting process – which involved an innovative community-level child participation process – and the provisions of the law which have led to a marked societal change in attitudes towards children and their rights. We work to transfer lessons from Zanzibar to other African countries in the region.
The reinforced Youth Guarantee will play a crucial role in tackling youth unemployment in Europe, especially in countries like Greece or Spain. In our web-event, we will discuss if and how a Green Sector offers a unique chance to involve young women and men endangered by economic exclusion, in particular by implementing the goals set out in the European Green Deal and the corresponding national Energy and Climate Plans.
This broshure summarizes the winning policies of our Future Policy Award 2019 on Empowering Youth.
Youth Fusion: Abolition 2000 Youth Network
Youth Fusion is a world-wide networking platform for young individuals and organizations in the field of nuclear disarmament, risk-reduction and non-proliferation. We focus on youth action and intergenerational dialogue, building on the links between disarmament, peace, climate action, sustainable development and building back better from the pandemic. Our goals are clear: to inform, educate, connect and engage our fellow students, activists and enthusiasts. Through these activities, and as part of Abolition 2000 Network, we are contributing to the total abolition of nuclear weapons.
Young people play a crucial role in advancing development, democracy and peace and in fulfilling the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Devleopment. They are talented, knowledgeable and amitious, and are making a difference every day in all fields of work and as leaders in their communities. Already today, youth make up 37% of the global working-age population, but account for 60% of the total unemployed. Harnessing this demographic dividend (growing size of the working-age poulation) is the key for countries to thrive in a way that recognizes the needs of future generations. We award laws and policies that foster enabling enviornments for youth so that they can develop their full potential, realize their dreams, and contribute to the success of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
This broshure summarizes the winning policies of our Future Policy Award 2019 on Empowering Youth.
The right to a healthy environment is constitutionally protected in over 100 countries. Another 62 countries refer in their constitutions to a healthy environment, but do not make it a right. Similarly, there is no mention of this right as such in international human rights instruments, like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, or even the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The first formal recognition of this right was in Principle 1 of the Stockholm Declaration of 1972.
Today about 60 years after the Covenants were written, science is clear. There is sufficient evidence of the harm caused to the Earth and humankind by man–made climate change. Ecosystems and biodiversity across the world show a rapid decline. We must act now, for the sake of our children and future generations.
The right to a healthy environment calls for recognition of exactly this: that our environment should be safe, clean, healthy, and sustainable. Any action should follow the “do no harm” principle and abide by the principle of intergenerational equity. These principles require that natural resources and ecosystems are protected so that present and future generations can fully enjoy their human rights, and in order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
The World Future Council is also a global cooperating partner organisation of the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative, which seeks to ensure that children’s rights are placed at the centre of environmental decision-making and action. Its overarching goal is to secure international recognition of children’s fundamental right to a safe and healthy environment. CERI is building towards development, recognition and implementation of a new Global Charter on Children’s Right to a Healthy Environment based on inputs of children and experts globally. This can act as a blueprint for standard-setting on children’s right to a healthy environment, to be adopted by States.
One of the initiatives advanced by the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative is the My Planet My Rights online poll, which enables young people to share their concerns and solutions on the environment. Responses will be gathered to feed into high-level consultations and help build regional reports and a Global Charter that will be brought to decision-makers to inform environmental policy.
The Time is now! We signed the Global Call for the UN Human Rights Council to urgently recognise the Right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.
● To Her Excellency, Ms. Elisabeth TICHY-FISSLBERGER, Permanent Representative of
Austria to the United Nations Office at Geneva, President of the United Nations Human
● To their Excellencies, Permanent Representatives of the Members of the United Nations
Human Rights Council
● To their Excellencies, the Permanent Representatives to the United Nations Office at Geneva
COVID/19 has been a wakeup call for humanity. The pandemic has created unprecedented emergencies. To overcome the current catastrophic scenario we need to act now, not only to respond to the health crisis but to build a just and sustainable future. We urgently need a strong and efficient multilateral system, we need global leadership, collective action and shared responsibilities in support of current and future generations.
But how does the young generation cope with the crisis? How does the pandemic impact their present and future?
Read our article series “Young people and the pandemic” by clicking on the titles below “Read more”.