Over the past few months, civil society groups across China, India, the US and UK have been working together on the Freedom to breathe campaign; supporting children’s calls for a right to clean air. Children on the Edge have added our voice to the campaign.
We believe that every child should be able to breathe clean, unpolluted air, yet nine out of ten children around the world are breathing in toxins that exceed safe levels. This poses serious risks to their health and development. Breathing clean air is vital to help children realise their full potential and live long healthy lives.
By 2050, UNICEF predicts that air pollution will become the leading cause of child mortality. Despite these risks, clean air is not among children’s rights defined by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
In advance of Universal Children’s Day and along with Great Ormond Street and Friends of the Earth, Children on the Edge is one 62 signatory organisations and leading academics who have recently written to The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) supporting children around the world to see their right to clean air elevated within the UNCRC system.
As a child rights organisation, Children on the Edge believes that every child has the right to be free and to thrive. Our work is guided by the United Nations Convention for the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). This convention is a promise, made in 1989, by governments across the world, to do everything in their power to protect and promote children’s rights to survive and thrive, to learn and grow, to make their voices heard and to reach their full potential.
The Freedom to Breathe campaign wants to see the UN acknowledge a child's right to clean air in the the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, which currently talks about a childs’ right to the best possible health, clean water, and a clean environment, but does not explicitly mention the “right to clean air”.
This call is based on the disproportionate impact children face from exposure to harmful air pollutants, owing to their unique vulnerabilities. According to UNICEF, 300 million children live in areas of extremely toxic air pollution and around 2 billion children live in areas where pollution levels exceed the minimum air quality standards set by the World Health Organisation. The WHO estimates that in 2016 alone, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.
The young people’s call for change is run by Blueair and supported by a coalition of businesses, academics and civil society organisations. You can read more about Freedom to breathe in A Child’s Right to Clean Air.