‘No Time to Waste’ … to Empower and Protect Children and Young People’s Rights to Climate Justice


COY-16, 30/10/2021

Children and young people from across Scotland, UN experts, civil society, and delegates participating in the United Nations Conference of Youth joined together to discuss empowering and protecting children and young people’s rights to climate justice.

Speakers emphasised that the climate crisis is a children’s rights crisis, and is affecting children and young people right now. The climate emergency affects children’s human rights to physical and mental health, education, adequate standard of living, play, culture and family life, among others.

Children and young people have also led calls for climate justice in the streets, in the courtroom and online, missing school to do so. They are raising their voices and acting as human rights defenders to protect the planet, their human rights and those of others. We have to encourage and support them when they want to be protesting and challenging those in power.

Children and young people must be meaningfully engaged in processes concerning them, including COP-26, the UN climate talks taking place in Scotland until November 12th. Their right to peaceful protest must be respected, protected and fulfilled during COP-26.

  • Lily, Young Adviser to Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland
  • Dr. Najat Maalla M’jid, United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children
  • Laura, 17, Shetland
  • Mr. Bruce Adamson, Children and Young People’s Commissioner Scotland
  • Climate Changemakers: Members of Children’s Parliament, Scotland

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Participating in this deliberative democratic process was a hugely significant journey for both the children and adults involved. Reflections from both the children and adults involved in the Climate Assembly and Climate Changemakers programmes have shown the power of realizing children’s rights through their participation in intergenerational space – adults in the Climate Assembly feel that the children’s input strengthened the final recommendations to Scottish Parliament.

Since June, the children have been invited into several spaces within which to influence adult decision makers, including Scottish Cabinet meetings and conversations with children’s rights experts. Yesterday, Children’s Parliament and the Scottish Youth Parliament hosted a nationwide event called The Moment. Hundreds of children and young people across Scotland hosted climate surgeries with their elected representatives about their climate calls to action ahead of COP26. The results of this event will be presented next Friday 5th November at the GLOBE Legislator’s Summit, painting a national picture of children and young people’s calls to action to leaders on tackling the climate emergency.



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