UN acknowledges children’s right to clean air

Over 29,000 children across the world have called on the Committee of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to acknowledge their right to clean air, through the Freedom to Breathe campaign.

The vice-chair of the Committee today acknowledged the right of children to clean air and confirmed it will be elevated within the UNCRC through the forthcoming General Comment no.26.

The vice-chair, Philip D Jaffé, agreed that we need an “air quality revolution”, but stressed that it would take decades to change the Convention, adding that the Committee will support the campaign by including the right to clean air in the upcoming general comment.

The campaign was run by Blueair and a coalition of NGOs, with 62 civil society organisations, academics and businesses supporting the children’s call in a letter to the Committee, including UNICEF UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital and Unilever.

Sara Alsén, chief purpose officer at Blueair, said: ‘Blueair was founded on the belief that business should be a force for good in society. For the last 25 years, we have been fighting for every child’s right to breathe clean air. I’m so proud that, today, the UN acknowledged our fight and recognized that clean air, just like clean water, should be the right of every child.’

Sonja Graham, CEO at Global Action Plan, who worked on the campaign in partnership with Blueair, added: ‘Change is more likely to happen now that we have the support of the Committee of the UNCRC so this acknowledgment is brilliant step in the right direction. Through the Freedom to breathe campaign, the children came to recognise that clean air is an essential necessity for life – just like clean water and healthy food – we are thrilled that the UN is acknowledging this too.’

The campaign has now collected 29,674 calls from children for clean air, with the support of their teachers through an education programme that taught children about the importance of clean air and how they can take action.

An 11-year-old student in Delhi, India, called Arnav, said: ‘Air pollution is devastating for the environment and our lungs. I know the problem of air pollution because I have asthma and bronchitis. During the winter season it gets particularly difficult to breathe because of stubble burning and fire cackles, people burst on Diwali. Why is our right to clean air not within the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child? My question to the United Nations is when will I get to breathe the clean air I want?’

In related news, as Global Action Plan has successfully taken a white paper to the UN calling for clean air to be recognised as a right of the child, Chloe Coules investigates why we need international recognition of the impact of air pollution on children and what changing human rights law could achieve. 

Photo supplied by Global Action Plan


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David MacLean
David MacLean
2 years ago

Cooking the Books – Cooking the Planet.
Not being held to account for the burden we gift our children perpetuates a non-transparency and accounting system that only values a lowest-first-cost, minimum-code, profit-at-all-costs mentality absolving decision makers (you and me) from being held accountable for our current and future generation’s the ability to thrive.
This in essence creates a criminal enterprise where we allow the true costs to be hidden on a separate ledger, and the cost burden of those decisions pushed onto the backs of those who have no voice and apparently no value. Our children.
Cooking the Books – Cooking the Planet.

Ramesh Yadav
Ramesh Yadav
2 years ago

Radical changes from government’s are needed then only our children’s will be able to get clean air

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