• BRASILIA, May 24, 2024 – Two teenagers will tell firsthand how climate change is negatively affecting the rights of children and adolescents during a historic hearing today in Brazil, based on their own experiences and discussions with their peers from across Latin America.

    Joselim, 17, from Peru, and Camila, 14, from El Salvador, will tell the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (IACHR) how the climate crisis is depriving them of their rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, such as education, survival and development.

    They will explain to the Court how extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves and torrential rains, are decimating agriculture and increasing food prices, contributing to a health and nutrition crisis for children and families. They will also highlight how the effects of climate change can disrupt children’s learning as increasingly adverse weather conditions, such as floods and landslides, prevent them from going to school.

    The hearing is part of the second phase of a historic consultation that began last year and was promoted by Colombia and Chile, which asked the tribunal to establish what legal responsibilities States have to address climate change and prevent it from violating people’s human rights.

    This “advisory opinion” could be very influential and set the stage for future legal action.

    Joselim, 17, said, “Taking care of The protection of Mother Earth is urgent because time is running against us. Children, adolescents, youth and humanity in general must enjoy a healthy, clean, dignified and safe environment. This requires a change to rebuild a conscious society, in which children and adolescents are active participants. We must take care of the land we live on and preserve humanity. My call to action for the authorities is to respect our Mother Earth, preserve and care for her.

    “We need leaders to invest in the recovery of agriculture, in education and in environmental plans and public policies with adequate resources and personnel. We need them to promote recycling, the use of renewable energies and the adoption of more nature-friendly agricultural production techniques so that more children and adolescents can enjoy a healthy, clean and safe environment.”

    Camila, 14, said: “The Court must listen to and learn from children and adolescents about how we are experiencing the climate crisis and its impact on our rights. Climate change is affecting our right to health in many ways, for example, causing deaths and illnesses from extreme heat waves, storms and floods, toxic air pollution, droughts, food shortages, the spread of diseases such as cholera and dengue fever, and serious infections from an increase in animal diseases that are transmitted to people. All this, in turn, generates poverty and displacement”.

    Camila will also emphasize the urgent need for leaders to address the adverse effects of the climate crisis on health systems by investing in improving health infrastructure and making healthcare more accessible to people in rural and remote communities.

    Today’s hearing follows the submission to the Tribunal of an “Amicus Curiae” in which an organization can present legal arguments and recommendations. This initiative originated from the networks led by children and adolescents: Latin American and Caribbean Movement of Working Children and Adolescents (Molacnnats) and Latin American Network of Children and Adolescents (REDNNyAs), both Save the Children partners. The process was also technically supported by the Peruvian organization Sociedad Peruana de SPDA and facilitated by Save the Children through its Regional Civil Society Strengthening Program.

    It is the result of months of consultations with children and adolescents throughout the region on how their rights are being eroded by the impacts of climate change and on the measures that States should adopt to protect human rights in the face of the climate crisis, with special emphasis on the right to health, education, adequate food and recreation. These views will be incorporated into the speeches to be delivered today by Joselim and Camila.

    Victoria Ward, Save the Children’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, said:

    “Climate change is mostly affecting those least responsible for the damage: children and adolescents. Children and adolescents already facing hunger and conflict, poverty and discrimination are suffering the most.

    “Across Latin America and the Caribbean, we have recently witnessed unprecedented heat waves and droughts that have forced school closures and caused lasting damage to crops and agriculture that are driving food prices soaring and pushing families into poverty. Brazil has also suffered the worst floods in 80 years, displacing more than 580,000 people from their homes.

    “Children and adolescents demand change. Their powerful experiences and solutions will only make the fight against climate change stronger. And we know that the only way adults can truly protect the rights of children and adolescents is by including them in decisions that affect them. That’s why it’s great to see Joselim and Camila using this platform to talk about how the climate crisis is affecting the rights of children across the region. Hopefully they will be heard.

    In Latin America and the Caribbean and around the world, Save the Children is working with governments to find ways to increase funding for climate policies and actions that protect the rights of children and adolescents.

    Save the Children works with and for children, putting their rights and views first, and supporting them to tell their governments and human rights bodies how their lives are affected by climate change and environmental degradation, so that those responsible understand their obligations to children.

    Save the Children is implementing climate programs in more than 50 countries around the world and taking direct climate action: from working with communities to adapt to the climate changes affecting them now, to anticipating future emergencies and strengthening communities’ capacity to anticipate, adapt, prepare, respond and recover.