Environmental changes taking place around the world find their way into the bodies and minds of
children. Through polluted air, water and food, we each inadvertently consume a quarter of a kilogram of plastic per year – equivalent to eating a credit card every week. In nine of the world’s richest countries, more than 1 child in 20 have elevated levels of lead in their blood. The environmental ‘problem’ is not an abstract concept about a distant future: it is affecting children – right here, right now.
In October 2021, the United Nations Human Rights Council recognized the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment,5 while the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child decided that a country can be held responsible for the impact of its emissions on children both within and beyond its territory.6 Yet, more effort is needed to avert the most dire consequences of environmental neglect. The importance of having all countries work towards the goals set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is becoming ever more apparent.