Child Participation and the Right to a Sustainable Environment
The increasing visibility of climate action campaigns led by young activists strongly indicates that our attention must not be diverted from the environmental emergency that is undermining children’s rights and future prospects around the world. Discussions in these areas typically revolve around the types of children's rights that are most at risk and the protection of children and young people from the harmful effects of climate change and a degraded environment. The call of young activists, instead, expresses the need to go a step further by recognising the many links between a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment and children’s rights to be heard and participate.
Such a stand should not be underestimated, especially if considered in the light of existing frameworks relating to both the environment and children’s rights. Whether we look at children’s rights to health and education, or children’s freedom of association and peaceful assembly, or the increasing calls for the recognition of a right to a healthy environment, international standards indicate that the understanding of environmental concerns, enhanced by the full consciousness of children’s right to participate, may improve not only the quality of children’s lives but also the quality of children’s responsive actions, such of those of youth environmental movements.
In this light, recent developments such as UN resolutions, reports and summits or civil society campaigns and calls for legal accountability and redress seem to be a step in the ‘right’ direction and provide an empowering context for initiatives organised by children to defend their environmental rights. However, questions still remain: how many children proactively make use of human rights standards in their action against environmental damage? How can we build on the movement initiated by young climate activists to recognise children as direct agents of change? How can climate action be organised, sustained and deployed in a way that upholds children’s rights and the effective participation of children?
This MOOC asks children’s rights experts, environment specialists, human rights scholars and young climate activists to examine concepts, standards and practices of rights-based participation of children in environmental matters. Through free and open access to current knowledge and debates, the course speaks to a worldwide audience - and young people specifically - to inform those who are seeking human rights guidance, encourage those who are curious to know more, support those who are already acting, and ultimately boost effective change.
The course runs over 6 weeks and is organised in 3 modules:
Module 1 is an introduction to children’s rights and the environment, with a focus on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and its articles related to both child participation and the environment.
Module 2 is dedicated to the right to a healthy and sustainable environment for children, with attention to the link between human rights, the environment and natural resources as well as environmental sustainability and holistic education.
Module 3 deals with child participation and action in environmental matters and looks at the role of children as agents of change and as rights-holders in climate litigation.
Upon completion of this course participants will have gained:
Knowledge about key international standards, documents, initiatives and recommendations on children’s rights in relation to the environment
Understanding of progress and obstacles in the implementation of such standards
Ability to identify multi-faceted aspects of current debates on child participation and climate action
Capacity to discuss specific issues and cases of concern from a theoretical and practical perspective
Awareness of multiple avenues for children and young people to act, demand accountability and redress, and support rights-based changes in the fight against environmental harm
The course encompasses a 6-weeks period with approximately 36 hours of active learning through readings, videos, discussions, polls and quizzes. The course is mostly asynchronous but does feature some live webinars and is based on a participatory approach aimed at developing and reinforcing personal critical reflection and peer-to-peer learning. Examples from different areas of the world and on different themes allow the identification of cross-regional and cross-cutting issues and enable a global and multidimensional understanding of the topic.
Certificate of Participation
At the end of the course, participants who have actively participated in all required weekly discussions and successfully completed all quizzes will receive a free certificate confirming their participation.
This course is for participants around the world, including children and young people, who are actively interested and engaged in children’s rights work and wish to deepen their knowledge about the theory and practice of child participation in environmental matters and related developments, key debates and possibilities for transformation.