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OCO and UNICEF Ireland work with Government to consult children on climate

The Government is to consult with children and young people on the global climate crisis, giving a major boost to child rights in Ireland. The development means young people will be given input into shaping the Government’s action on climate, strengthening children’s right to participate, and to be heard.

Ahead of a Government pledge to consult with young people on the climate crisis at the UN General Assembly in New York, UNICEF Ireland and the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO) partnered up to help achieve youth participation.

World Children’s Day on November 20 next is the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). World leaders are marking the anniversary this week by renewing their commitment to child rights at a General Assembly dominated by climate change. The Government, in partnership with the OCO and UNICEF Ireland, will enhance its commitment to children’s rights here by pledging to give young people a real say on how the Government responds to the climate crisis.

As guardians of the Convention, the OCO and UNICEF will support the Government to achieve its commitment to consult with young people on climate. The children’s rights bodies are calling for a structured and sustainable channel to be identified, though which young people can influence decision-making at the highest level.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: “In Ireland and around the world, children and young people are keeping climate action at the top of the agenda. If the international community wants to stop climate change and adapt to it successfully, we must replace fear and anxiety with action and optimism. Young people are helping to shape public attitudes and inspire greater urgency. The Irish Government played a pivotal role at the United Nations this week in persuading other nations to allow young people’s voices to be heard. As we look ahead to the 30th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child later this year, the Government is working with other stakeholders to provide meaningful opportunities for young people to contribute to the climate agenda, including at the meeting of Dáil na nÓg in November.”

UNICEF Ireland Executive Director Peter Power said: “On a Global scale, UNICEF is using the Anniversary of the Convention to move the child rights agenda forward and reflect the challenges faced by young people today. We need a two-way dialogue between young people and the leaders of our country if children’s rights in Ireland are to evolve.”

Ombudsman for Children, Niall Muldoon said: “The children have spoken when it comes to climate. They want to be heard. Climate change is not an issue that adults and decision makers can progress effectively without hearing from those most affected. I look forward to working with the Irish Government and UNICEF to advance this important project and to ensure that the exciting initiatives started this year can develop to provide a pathway of real influence for children and young people. This will be to the benefit of everyone involved.”