Category: Life on Land


Submitted by Nico Roman (13, Canada, UK, Switzerland & Germany), Child Ambassador of the Voices of Future Generations (VoFG) Children’s Initiative & Co-Chair, Cambridge Schools Eco-Council, as one of the VoFG Child Authors, Child Ambassadors & Friends 

Thank you very much for the opportunity to comment on the draft of General Comment 26, which will guide governments by explaining how children’s rights are related to the environment and climate change, and what they must do to protect our rights. We especially appreciated your extra effort to provide a Child-Friendly version of the first draft General Comment 26 in different languages. This has allowed us to more easily discuss your draft with the younger youth and children from all over the world in our networks, and really helps us to contribute our voices for future generations.

As child authors and child ambassadors who work very hard to raise awareness and inspire action for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many of whom are also climate-strikers in our communities, we are very concerned about our world’s current climate change and biodiversity emergencies, and how the impacts will violate children’s rights. Through your General Comment, we hope that governments can help children and everyone to change all our ways before it is too late, in order for future generations (including our own) to hope for survival. 

We feel that the General Comment first draft is a good start but could be stronger in many ways, especially by committing more clearly to non-discrimination, to prevention and to much greater ambition in climate action. You have asked us to focus on specific sections of the General Comment, and to provide our views. We are happy to do so.

Right to education (GC26 para 31 – 38)

Your General Comment 26 says: “Children should be taught environmental education that is accurate and in ways that they understand. Environmental education should support children to connect with, and respect, the environment and other human beings. The places where children learn should be safe from environmental harm.” 

Many of us are able to receive some environmental education, even if information is often outdated and upsetting, so we really appreciate para 33. However, much of our current environmental education is not very focused on solutions and on how we can all contribute to children’s rights and advancing the SDGs. Our schools are the first place where many of us are trying to make a difference. In some of our schools, we have formed Sustainability Councils or Eco-Societies, then Eco-Councils of the clubs and societies. We have drafted Climate Action Plans and even helped to implement them for our schools and our communities. These small steps make a big difference to us. 

Might this kind of action please be mentioned in your GC26? If at all possible, could the General Comment 26 highlight the need for education but also action in our schools, so that we do not feel hopeless and angry, but instead we can contribute to sustainability solutions.

Rights of Indigenous children (GC26 para 49)

Your General Comment 26 says: “Indigenous children’s lives, survival and cultural practices are often very connected with their natural environment. Governments should make sure to protect their rights and involve children in all decisions being made about their lives.”

We really appreciate that you highlight indigenous children’s relationships with nature, survival, and the need to stop destroying our world, especially. The indigenous child authors and child ambassadors in our networks, with all our support and solidarity, feel it is very important to also mention the importance of indigenous languages, that are at the heart of the relationship with nature. So many irreplaceable and precious indigenous languages are being lost right now – just in our generation – and with them, so much important culture and understanding of the environment and climate change is lost too.

Right of non-discrimination (GC26 para 50-51)

Your General Comment 26 says: “No group of children (for example, girls or children with disabilities) should suffer from environmental problems more than others. Governments should collect information to learn more about the inequalities between groups, and take specific actions to resolve them.”

We deeply support this point, but we also hope that you could highlight the need to find ways to involve children of all differing abilities, and children from all groups in environmental and sustainability activities. If at all possible, you could also highlight the terrible situations that are being faced by children who are losing their entire territories, countries and communities due to climate change impacts, and how unfair this is, just a bit more clearly and strongly.

Right to be heard (GC26 para 56-58)

Your General Comment 26 says: “Children should have a say on issues related to the environment and climate change, and to be taken seriously by adults. Governments and businesses should involve children when making decisions about the environment and climate change.”

Many of us are trying to have our voices heard in decision-making about climate change, biodiversity and global health emergencies, so we really appreciate paras 56 and 57. We have learned to work together online, through digital meetings, and we think it is helpful that you highlight these opportunities in para 56. We actually edit an online journal for children and youth concerned about global sustainability ( and we hope it really helps to inspire and empower youth worldwide. 

While we totally agree that children and youth voices should be heard, and that we can and should participate in adult decision-making on all levels, we also think we can contribute a lot to developing and acting for solutions for children’s rights, protecting and restoring our environment, and advancing the SDGs ourselves too. Our communities are very important places where many of us are trying to make a difference. We can form Sustainability Councils or Eco-Societies in our schools, we can also create Eco-Councils or Guardian’s Networks among these clubs and societies in our communities. We have drafted Climate Action Plans and even helped to implement them for our schools and our communities as mentioned earlier. On other levels, for such councils or guardian’s networks, we do need some support and help to link us all together and connect, and also to help keep our councils or networks going year by year, with youth and children especially. It’s about empowerment and agency. Might this kind of action please be mentioned in your GC26? If there is a way to encourage youth and children organizing ourselves, we would greatly appreciate it.  

Right to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly (GC26 para 59-61)

Your General Comment 26 says: “Children often stand up for their environmental rights as human rights defenders. Many children also spend time with friends and groups in different environments. Governments must protect children from anyone who wants to stop them from doing so.”

Thank you for including the section recognizing our rights to express our concerns. This is very, very important. Many of us are climate-strikers, and we are prevented or punished for trying to stop the actions that are destroying our Earth. We greatly appreciate that the General Comment is very clear on this. We also greatly appreciate the advocacy and hard work of the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights and the Environment Prof David Boyd and the others who have held this role, they have helped us a great deal and is tirelessly defending defenders.

Access to justice and remedies (GC26 para 62-70)

Your General Comment 26 says: “When children’s rights have been affected by environmental harm and climate change, children should be able to access justice – that is, solutions, support and compensation for the harm and consequences they are experiencing – at regional and international levels.”

Thank you especially for directly speaking about children and youth climate justice cases, and our access to courts and remedies. We really appreciate this aspect of our friends’ efforts being highlighted, and feel it can make a real difference if children and youth can use our justice systems to advance change. It might be good to highlight indigenous laws and governance systems, as many of these justice systems are so important for the environment, the natural world and climate change. We strongly support the efforts of youth, academic leaders, governments and others to request an Advisory Opinion in the International Court of Justice, and in other courts including the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and we hope that this General Comment can be understood to strongly support it too. In such a high-profile and symbolic case, an Advisory Opinion can bring our entire future to the world’s attention, and that is desperately needed.

Right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (GC26 para 71-74)

Your General Comment 26 says: “While this right is not directly included in the Convention, the Committee explains that children have the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Children need a clean environment in order to enjoy all of their human rights. Children should have access to clean air and water, safe climates, healthy ecosystems and biodiversity, healthy food and non-polluted environments.”

Thank you for including the section recognizing our rights to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. This is very, very important to us all. We agree that action needs to be taken immediately on all fronts to protect and realise this right for children. We understand that you might need to ask to ‘phase out’ fossil fuels (para 73 d), but many of us who are climate-strikers feel very, very strongly that it is already nearly too late, and all fossil fuels need to be banned as soon as possible. It is crazy that current generations of adult are still allowing our energy to be coming from non-renewable sources that poison our Earth, and this has to change immediately.

General Comment 26 Section V (GC26 para 75-81)

Further, we really appreciate that the General Comment includes how States should ensure a clean, healthy and sustainable environment in order to respect, protect and fulfil children’s rights, focusing on their obligations.

Thank you for including this section – it is very important. We were a bit confused by the part in para 76 about ‘paying due regard’ to the precautionary approach. Would it be possible to make this stronger and commit to the precautionary principle for all children and for nature directly? We also strongly support the call for laws and policies. If possible, could these laws and policies clearly refer to environmental health, safety and also sustainability? The SDGs are very important to us, and where international guidelines exist, they should all be respected. New guidelines and treaties are also needed in some areas, like to stop plastics from destroying our natural world.

General Comment 26 Section VI (GC26 para 98-123)

Finally, we deeply thank you for including such a long and careful section on the responsibilities of governments to take action on climate change. However, we feel that since the global Biodiversity Emergency, globally, is just as serious and equally terrible, impacting millions of species that our generation, and all future generations, might lose forever, and never even know about. You do mention that climate change is devastating biodiversity, and you mention the rising problems of biodiversity loss and destruction of nature in your discussions of some of the children’s rights, but we believe that right before or after the sub-section on Business and climate change (D, para 114-118), a new section should be inserted recognizing the need for urgent action to protect nature and biodiversity in the interests of current and future generations. This section can refer to some of the commitments agreed in Montreal during the Convention on Biological Diversity’s COP15, especially the important promises in the Global Biodiversity Framework to look for ‘nature-positive’ solutions to climate change and biodiversity emergencies, and to protect much more of land and sea for current and future generations. As another idea, you could do a second General Comment specifically on biodiversity, even though we do think that the advice could be stronger and clearer (and more interconnected) if it was included here. (For more on children, youth and the GBF, please see Nico’s Natural World blog –

We hope that this contribution is helpful, and again, really appreciate the opportunity to comment on your Draft General Comment 26.

Yours sincerely,

Nico Roman (13, of UK, Canada, Germany and Switzerland)

YR9 Scholar of Winchester College, UK; Co-Chair of the Cambridge Schools Eco-Council; Child Ambassador of the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative; and Junior Editor of the Global Youth Council on Science, Law and Sustainability online journal Harmony.

Background on the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Rights Initiative consultations among child authors, child ambassadors and friends from different countries and regions. 

Who are we, and how are we consulting among our networks?

Our consultations are taking place online between December 2022 and February 2023, engaging children and youth leaders from the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative network from Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Democratic Republic of Congo, Germany, Ghana, Kenya, Mexico, South Africa, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, Uruguay, Zambia, Zimbabwe and other countries (, also indigenous children and youth from their territories and nations. Many of us are boys and girls involved in creating stories, artwork, music and drama about protecting our earth, climate chante and sustainability, we also serve as child leaders of eco-councils and other student clubs in our communities, and we range in ages from 7-8 years old (new members) to 17-18 years old (alumni). We have also posted our comments on Nico’s Natural World, a blog led by the student who prepared this comment (, and on our online journal (

The Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative (VoFG CI) is a movement on children’s rights and sustainable development. VoFG CI is a unique programme of action that empowers children to promote the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Worl’s Sustainable Development Goal agenda (SDGs). Our mission is to assist children to advance the right to education and literacy globally through the children’s book series. Books are authored by children aged 8-12, for children aged 6 and above. These stories from around the world are illustrated and published, and the books disseminated globally to schools and libraries for all children to benefit from the knowledge and insight. Through our Intergenerational Dialogue Programme, Online Roundtables and Eco-seminars we enable children to enter into effective and inspiring communication with experts and global leaders, who are effecting positive change in the fields of children’s rights and sustainable development.

The Importance of the New Global Biodiversity Framework under the UN Convention on Biological Diversity for Youth

By Nico Roman


Nature is very important for youth, not just to value the uniqueness and wonder of the natural world, but also because we depend on natural systems, natural resources and ecosystem services for our quality of life and our very survival. Young people can connect with our environment and the natural world through green spaces, protected areas on land and underwater, and other areas. We can help to protect and restore biodiversity, finding and promoting nature-positive solutions for sustainability.

According to the Global Youth Biodiversity Network (GYBN): “Our generation has seen many of the promises of the Millennium Development Goals, the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, and the Kyoto Protocol fail.​”

“We need real transformative change – for humankind to realign priorities, values, behaviours, and actions. We have the creativity, will and energy to reinvent our systems, equitably and sustainably. But for our generation to have hope for a future built on peace and harmony with nature, we need unprecedented action.”

The adoption of the Global Biodiversity Framework in the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) of the United Nations in Montreal this December 2022 represents an historic moment – our opportunity to bend the curve on global biodiversity loss.

The newly adopted Global Biodiversity Framework includes several very important commitments by countries, stakeholders and communities.

In the Global Biodiversity Framework, countries have promised to take action, before 2030, to ensure effective conservation and management of at least 30% of the world’s lands, inland waters, coastal areas and the ocean; to have restoration completed or underway on at least 30% of degraded terrestrial, inland waters, coastal and marine ecosystems; and to reduce to near zero the loss of areas of high biodiversity importance, including ecosystems of high ecological integrity. These promises are important for youth because many of us have not yet had the opportunity to explore and learn about our lands, inland waters, coasts and oceans – we need to protect natural systems for current and future generations, and to save the millions of plant and animals that many young people love from extinction.

Countries have also committed to reduce by half both excess nutrients and the overall risk posed by pesticides and highly hazardous chemicals.  This commitment is important for youth because chemicals can be dangerous for wildlife and also communities who live near areas that are contaminated, especially young people and the elderly who are often much more vulnerable to poisons and hazards.

Further, countries have promised to prevent the introduction of priority invasive alien species and reduce by at least half the introduction and establishment of other known or potential invasive alien species and eradicate or control invasive alien species on islands and other priority sites. This is important for youth because such efforts give a fighting chance to the species which we need to protect for future generations and prevent invasive species from destroying the habitats and ecosystems that many young people depend on for food and income.

In addition, in the Global Biodiversity Framework, countries commit to cut global food waste in half and significantly reduce over consumption and waste generation. This will mean, if we can also improve food distribution, that there is more food for the future families who would otherwise suffer from nutrition and food insecurity. Further, it will mean less waste in the natural environment, affecting quality of life for youth and others who depend on nature.

These commitments are underpinned by new finance for nature, which includes to mobilise by 2030 at least $200 billion/year in domestic and international biodiversity-related funding from all sources; and to raise international finance flows from developed to developing countries, in particular least developing countries, small island developing states, and countries with economies in transition, to at least US $20 billion per year by 2025 and to at least US $30 billion per year by 2030. This is important for youth because nature-positive finance can open new jobs and opportunities for young people to help protect and restore nature and earn their livelihoods while doing so.

Further, countries community to progressively phase out or reform by 2030 subsidies that harm biodiversity by at least $500 billion per year. This is quite important for youth because it means finance is redirected towards projects that are good for biodiversity, which can support new efforts in these areas, and also that finance does not support activities which degrade and destroy that natural world, making young people who depend on it suffer.

They further committed require large and transnational companies and financial institutions to monitor, assess and transparently disclose their risks, dependencies and impacts on biodiversity through their operations, supply and value chains and portfolios. This is important for youth because it will mean there is accountability for  companies which ruin environments and habitats, and if companies can assess and manage their activities and products more sustainably, they can sell higher quality more sustainable products to young consumers who can learn to consume more responsibly.


All countries including youth should take action immediately to implement the Global Biodiversity Framework before it is too late.  Even with these new targets and commitments, we need to scale up the action, partnerships and resources that are desperately needed right away to keep these promises for our natural world. We face a terribly urgent biodiversity crisis which is sure to worsen as climate change, conflict and other conditions worsen. Our efforts need to be backed by education, awareness and political will, and supported by more widespread media coverage. As youth, we have an opportunity and an obligation to make change in our schools and communities, so that everyone will be able to respect, restore and appreciate the natural world.

Register now: Free Online International Roundtable on Indigenous Children’s Voices & Rights

Are you interested in learning about the links between education, Indigenous rights and sustainability?

Are you inspired by the leadership of children and youth to advance the global Sustainable Development Goals?

Would you like to help implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, by encouraging Indigenous children’s voices?


Register now for a very special online International Roundtable on Indigenous Children’s Voices & Rights, which takes place on Tuesday 9 August 2021 at 8:00 EST | 11:00 EST |16:00 BST in celebration of the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples.

This Online International Roundtable on Indigenous Children’s Voices & Rights engages young leaders from different Nations as well as specialists and experts working to promote Indigenous Peoples’ and children’s rights. In an interactive and intergenerational dialogue, it seeks to strengthen and promote Indigenous Children’s Rights and the global Sustainable Development Goals.

 The event features Indigenous Child Author Adelyn Sophie Newman-Ting*, the first Voices of Future Generations Indigenous Child Author. Adelyn wrote Finding the Language, a creative and captivating story about reclaiming language through the land and its creatures, highlighting the interconnected cycle of life and culture. The event also features Indigenous Child Ambassadors Bella Morrisseau and Sydnee Wynter. Honoured chairs and speakers also include an Indigenous member of the Canadian Commission for UNESCO Youth Advisory Group (YAG), Ms. Portia Garnons-Williams (Senior Editor of Harmony Online Journal & University of Toronto student), Master Nico Roman (Junior Editor of Harmony Online Journal & Child Ambassador, VoFG CI), Dr. Aruna Alexander (UNA- Canada, Quinte Branch), Ms. Jaydum Hunt (Interim Director, Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre, WISC)  Adv. Wayne Garnons-Williams (National Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation of Canada Chair), Ms. Elaina Cox (Senior Researcher, First Nations Treaties for SDGs Project, University of Waterloo), Ms. Eva Wu (Senior Researcher, First Nations Treaties for SDGs Project, University of Waterloo), Prof. Marie-Claire Cordonier Segger (University of Cambridge / University of Waterloo / CISDL),  Prof Carey Newman Hayalthkin’geme* (University of Victoria Professor & Impact Chair, Master Carver), Adv. Neshan Gunasekera* (Lead Counsel for Peace, Justice and Governance, CISDL), Dr. Odeeth Lara-Morales (University of Waterloo / CISDL / UNA-Canada), Ms. Courtney Defriend (Director of Research and Knowledge Exchange, First Nations Health Authority) and Ms. Kyla Judge (Canadian Commission for UNESCO’s Youth Advisory Group Member and Cultural Program Officer at the UNESCO Georgian Bay Biosphere Region).

With warmest thanks to the partners and collaborators:

Centre for International Sustainable Development Law (CISDL)

First Nations Treaties & SDGs Project, School of Environment, Enterprise and Development (SEED), University of Waterloo

University of Cambridge

National Sixties Scoop Healing Foundation of Canada

Audain Professorship of Contemporary Art Practices of the Pacific Northwest, University of Victoria*

Waterloo Indigenous Student Centre Shatitsirótha’ (WISC)

And a special thanks to our friends and mentors from:

Canadian Commission for UNESCO

United Nations Association in Canada (Quinte Branch)


Festival of Nature 2022

On Sunday, June 12, 2022, I joined the Voices of Future Generations Children’s Initiative to host a virtual storytime as part of the Festival of Nature.

The Festival of Nature is the UK’s largest free celebration of the natural world. (We) Children from around the globe took the audience on a magical journey by sharing our stories, hopes, dreams and vision for a sustainable world.

I was the speaker who opened up the event for the VoFG CI delegation, then Child Authors followed.

If you missed it or want to watch it again here is the video:


I’m happy to announce that I’m a junior editor of an international online journal for and by youth.

Harmony was launched in the UN’s COP26 climate change events in Glasgow on November 6, 2021. This online journal was built on special links that the youth created during the global pandemic lockdowns. They hosted a series of short online tutorials with professors and heads of institutes from world-class universities to inspire young people that were left stranded by COVID-19 school closures.

Harmony was launched in the UN’s COP26 climate change events in Glasgow on November 6, 2021

Go to Harmony Online Journal here:

The Cambridge Schools Eco Council – Cam YS4C Actions

We rallied outside Great St Mary’s at 5:30 pm on Friday, Sep 24.

Then on Sep 25, 2021, we were l at the Cambridge Climate Fair on Parker’s Piece.

For the last 18 months, the Covid-19 pandemic has overtaken all other issues of discussion. We made a stand with thousands of other youths across the world to remind everyone that the climate crisis has NOT gone away. It’s real, it’s dangerous and – as shown by the recent floods in
Germany and London – it is already upon us.

This November, world leaders fortunate enough to get the vaccine will gather in Glasgow, UK, to participate in the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26). They are supposed to be implementing constructive solutions to the climate crisis and be initiating real, meaningful action.
However, over a period of time longer than most of the lives of Eco Council members and Youth Strikers 4 Climate, they have obfuscated the issue with greenwashing and avoidance of accountability.

In such chaotic times, it is up to us, the activists, scientists, engineers, lawyers, ordinary individuals – and children to raise the alarm bells. We thus return to the streets to protest with youth across the world for a brighter future. And that is why we show our support this Saturday to the many other climate activists fighting for meaningful action to be taken.

We thank everyone, children and adults, who joined us on Friday and Saturday, but these actions are just the beginning. They are a prelude to the strike from school on Oct 22 and the COP26 actions in November. Get ready, Cambridge. Change is coming whether you like it or not.

We also made into the press, check this article by Cambridge Independent:

Climate fair, school strike and a walking activist – Cambridge looks to COP26 for change

In Cambridge, Cambridge School Eco Council and XR Youth Cambridge organised a protest – the first such public event this year – outside the Senate House on Friday evening, on the same day Greta Thunberg spoke at the Bundestag in Berlin. Hundreds of school strikes took place across Germany ahead of their election on Sunday in the week the UN secretary general, António Guterres, said the world was “seemingly light years away from reaching our targets” on climate change.

“As the world slowly reawakens from a horrid pandemic, youth strikers across the world are rising up with actions to say #BuildBackBetter,” says the schools eco council, as speakers repeated their concerns at the prospect of having no water in Cambridge, and demands for “a Green New deal now!” on King’s Parade.

By Mike Scialom

Read the full article here.


Team Heron won the Local, Regional and National Rotary Young Environmentalist competition!!

Results of Cambridge Local Competition


Winner – Team Entry

Nico Cordonier Gehring, Thomas Langford, Orlaith Traynor-Bucknall, Morgan Hayes (King’s College School) – The Heron Team – Cambridge Climate Change Action Project

STOP-PRESS – The Heron Team have gone on to win the final, National stage of the competition in their age group!

To see the full article got by Rotary click here

Check out this interview by Cambridge 105 Radio as (we) the Heron Team from Kings College School won the local and district rounds of this year’s Rotary Young Environmentalist competition.

We won the Local, Regional and National Rotary Young Environmentalist competition and we celebrated!!!

Do you want to know more about our project? Go to my post: The Cambridge Climate Change Action Plan Project: Heron Habitat Helpers