We are proud to have been a part of an effort with Blueair Global Action Plan Centre for Environment Education and Safe Kids Worldwide to engage over 29,000 children from across the world in asking the UNCRC to acknowledge their right to clean air.
“Despite our progress, Los Angeles has the smoggiest air in the nation, and it is our youth who suffer the most. We are proud to be a part of this important program in support of our mission to protect public health, improve air quality and prevent climate change, and are thrilled that the UN has now acknowledged this right for children across the globe.”
UN acknowledges children’s campaign for right to clean air
Following 29,000 children globally calling on the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to acknowledge their right to clean air through the Freedom to breathe campaign, Vice-Chair of the UNCRC, Philip D. Jaffé, confirmed that clean air will now be elevated within the committee.
November 16, 2021
CHICAGO – Today, at the “Freedom to breathe: A Child’s Right to Clean Air” virtual event hosted by Blueair and Global Action Plan, Vice-Chair of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), Philip D. Jaffé, confirmed that clean air will now be elevated within the UNCRC through the forthcoming General Comment no.26.
Acknowledging that access to clean air has recently been recognized as a human right yet 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 US, UK, China and India have campaigned for their right to clean air through the Freedom to breathe campaign. The Coalition for Clean Air was proud to lead the campaign in the United States. An incredible 29,000 calls from children across the globe called for UN to include clean air among the rights of the child.
“Despite our progress, Los Angeles has the smoggiest air in the nation, and it is our youth who suffer the most,” says Joseph Lyou, President & CEO of CCA. “We are proud to be a part of this important program in support of our mission to protect public health, improve air quality and prevent climate change, and are thrilled that the UN has now acknowledged this right for children across the globe.”
“Blueair was founded on the belief that business should be a force for good in society. For the last 25 years, we have been fighting for every child’s right to breathe clean air,” says Sara Alsén, Chief Purpose Officer at Blueair. “I’m so proud that, today, the UN acknowledged our fight and recognized that clean air, just like clean water, should be the right of every child.”
“Change is more likely to happen now that this right has been recognized by the UNCRC, so this acknowledgment is a brilliant step in the right direction,” says Sonja Graham, CEO at Global Action Plan.” Through the Freedom to breathe campaign, the children came to recognize that clean air is an essential necessity for life – just like clean water and healthy food. We are thrilled that the UN is acknowledging this too.”
In the US, Blueair partnered with California-based Coalition for Clean Air (CCA) to roll out an education program that teaches children about the importance of healthy air and how they can advocate to improve the air they breathe. From workshops to Zoom meetings to petitions supporting the effort, the Freedom to breathe campaign drove home the importance of clean air for thousands of children across the country. In California, this resulted in more than 4,500 students engaged in the program indicating their desire to include “clean air” among the Rights of the Child. Furthermore, teachers and educators representing 14,856 students signed CCA’s petition asking the UN to include “clean air” among the Rights of the Child.
Nine out of ten children around the world are breathing in toxins that exceed safe levels and can interfere with critical stages of organ development in a child. Children are more physiologically vulnerable to air pollution based on their smaller size and have greater exposure to air pollution based on their faster breathing rate, per unit of body weight, compared to adults. By 2050, UNICEF predicts that air pollution will become the leading cause of child mortality and the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that in 2016 alone, 600,000 children died from acute lower respiratory infections caused by polluted air.
The Freedom to breathe campaign hopes the UNCRC’s acknowledgement will encourage the Convention on the Rights of the Child to provide authoritative guidance to States that will accelerate action on air pollution and safeguard future generations. In the immediate, the campaign will be sending a submission through the public consultation on the General comment 26.
To learn more about the Freedom to breathe campaign and why children everywhere deserve the right to clean air, visit: https://www.blueair.com/us/freedomtobreathe.html.