On October 24th, 2023, we came together to celebrate the United Nation’s Day. This marked the anniversary of the entry into force in 1945 of the UN Charter. There is no other global organization with the legitimacy, convening power and normative impact of the United Nations. Therefore, the celebration of this offers the opportunity to amplify our common agenda and reaffirm the purposes and principles of the UN Charter that have guided us for the past 78 years.
This year’s theme was focusing on General Comment 26 of the CRC which brings to light Children’s Rights to a Healthy Environment with a special focus on Climate Change. We hosted a collaborative event with the International School in Lund (ISLK) and UNESCO Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative
The event featured engaging discussions, including children’s perspectives on the right to a healthy environment. Among the speakers were Morten Kjaerum, Director of RWI, and Dr. Claudia Ituarte-Lima, Leader of the RWI thematic area on human rights and environment. Notably, two of the speakers were children, facilitating an inspiring dialogue among young minds.
UNESCO’s Voices of the Future Initiative by Ms. Elianys Martinez, Programme Coordinator of UNESCO’s Voices of the Future Initiative
Ela is a dedicated educator from the Dominican Republic. With more than 8 years of experience in education, she has passionately worked with teachers, students, and families, both in and out of traditional school settings. Her areas of expertise and interests encompass youth leadership, education for sustainable development, international collaboration, and innovative learning approaches. Beyond her role as the Programme Coordinator of UNESCO’s Voices of the Future Initiative, Ela also serves as a Sponsorships Coordinator in an international NGO that champions children’s rights and supports the integration of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into school curricula.
Meet the Young Advocates
Nico Cordonier Gehring, is a junior editor at Harmony Online Journal and a Winchester College Scholar in the UK, serves as a UN Child Ambassador for the SDGs. He is a passionate advocate for nature and the rights of future generations, known for his youth blog “Nico’s Natural World” and active involvement in organizing climate-strikes in Cambridge. Nico recently raised over £4,000 by paddling 67km to support children’s rights and nature conservation against climate change impacts. His achievements range from international writing awards to being named the UK Young Environmentalist of the Year in 2021.
“Advancing the world Sustainable Development Goals especially SDG 13 on climate action and SDG 15 to protect life on land makes the difference between a terrible nightmare and the future we want”
As children we have a duty to speak up and force our leaders to take action against climate change and environmental troubles. If we want to make a difference, we must scale up our understanding our education and our voices.”
Anisa Daniel-Oniko, from Lagos, Nigeria, is an accomplished young author and avid reader. Remarkably, she penned her debut book, “Double ‘A’ For Adventure,” at the age of ten, earning a spot on the long list for the prestigious Nigeria Prize for literature, typically an adult competition. In August 2021, she released her second book, “Further in Florien.” Anisa’s dedication extends to championing the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly SDG 15, SDG 14, and SDG 5. Her passionate storytelling aims to resonate in the hearts and libraries of children and adults worldwide, as she aspires to build a world marked by safety, sustainability, and tolerance, mirroring the adventures and escapades found within her stories.
“A healthy environment shouldn’t feel like a pipe dream that is what a right to a healthy environment means to me the right to experience the world without suffocating and without experiencing suffocation in turn. The truth is we only destroy our environment because we do not realise what we already lost; the sky, the stars at night, the seasons as we once knew them, clean air, clean water, sound agriculture, the right to the organic in the world of the artificial .”
During the session the enthusiasm and engagement of the students at the International School in Lund (ILSK) were truly remarkable. Eager to learn and participate, they actively contributed to the event, asking insightful questions, and sharing their excitement about hearing from other children dedicated to championing the right to a healthy environment.
Now that the seeds of change have been planted, these young students at ILSK have countless opportunities in the future to become more deeply involved in the fight for a healthy environment. We can anticipate that the children will continue to speaking up, taking part in worthwhile initiatives, and working with like-minded people around the globe for a thriving Earth.
Children are an important part of the conversation as stewards of the future planet and the next generation of leaders who will work to create a society that places a high value on equality, sustainability, and a healthy environment.