Following pressure from 29,674 children worldwide, ahead of World Children’s Day at the “Freedom to breathe: A Child’s Right to Clean Air” virtual event, the Vice-Chair to the Committee of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, Philip D. Jaffé, confirmed that clean air will be elevated within the UNCRC through the forthcoming General Comment no.26.
Access to clean air has recently been recognized as a human right but is not among children’s rights defined by the UNCRC. Philip D. Jaffé responded to the calls from children at the virtual event stating:
“We need an air quality revolution...It would take 20 years to change the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”
Therefore, Prof. Jaffé added that the Committee of the UNCRC will work on including every child’s right to clean air in the upcoming General Comment (no.26), further adding
“I will do my part and I will do everything I can with my colleagues to support you in what you are doing.”
Over the last six months children from the UK, US, China, India have been demanding their right to clean air through the Freedom to breathe campaign. The campaign, which is run by Blueair in partnership with Global Action Plan, the Coalition for Clean Air, Centre for Environment Education and Safekids Worldwide, has now collected 29,674 child calls worldwide.
Children have become empowered to call for their right to clean air with the support of their teachers through an education programme. As part of the programme, the children learned about the importance of clean, healthy air and how they can take action to improve the air they breathe and were offered the opportunity to call for their right to clean air.
The children’s call was further supported by 62 signatories comprised of civil society organisations, academics and businesses including UNICEF UK, Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), Unilever and the Global Alliance on Health and Pollution (GAHP). In a letter penned to members of the Committee of the UNCRC, signatories declared their support for children’s right to clean air being elevated within the Convention.