2023 Summer/Winter School – The transformative role of children’s rights to a healthy ocean

Date and Time: TUESDAY 12 September 2023, 2pm-3.30pm CEST



Children’s historical contributions to the protection of human rights and the environment have gained them recognition worldwide as “agents of change”. However, the climate change, biodiversity loss, and environmental pollution crises pose an urgent and systemic threat to their life and most basic human rights, prompting former Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment John Knox to state that children are the population endangered the most by the triple environmental crises. Whilst the principles of intergenerational justice and equity are gaining traction within international and regional decision-making processes, there exists a perception that children’s voices are heard, but not truly understood or meaningfully taken into account. 

Against this background, we want to take the opportunity of the recent adoption of the UN General Comment 26 on children’s human rights and a healthy environment, with a special focus on climate change, to explore the transformative role of children’s right to a healthy environment especially focusing on ocean governance and marine spaces. Accordingly, the panel will underscore the importance of children’s right to be heard in ocean governance decision-making fora, addressing the scope of State obligations to ensure respect of children’s rights and interests, and offering reflections on more ambitious approaches to integrating intergenerational dialogue within such processes on the basis of good practices in the context of the protection of children’s human rights. In this regard, we firmly believe that a healthy and sustainable ocean is key to the full enjoyment of a wide range of children’s rights. 


Andrea Longo, One Ocean Hub and University of Strathclyde (chair)

Sophie Shields, One Ocean Hub and University of Strathclyde.

Britney Nurse, University of the West Indies, Barbados.

Dr Mitchell Lennan, One Ocean Hub and University of Aberdeen.

Mia Strand, Nelson Mandela University.


Journal articles

Morgera E and Lennan M. (2022). “Strengthening Intergenerational Equity at the Ocean-Climate Nexus: Reflections on the UNCRC General Comment No.26.”Environmental Policy and Law. https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=4284824, https://content.iospress.com/articles/environmental-policy-and-law/epl219052

Shields S, Longo A, Strand M & Morgera E. (2023). Children’s Human Right to Be Heard at the Ocean-climate Nexus. The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law (published online ahead of print 2023). https://doi.org/10.1163/15718085-bja10140

Strand M, Shields S, Morgera E, McGarry D, Lancaster A, Brown L and Snow B, Protecting Children’s Rights to Development and Culture by Re-Imagining ‘Ocean Literacies’ (July 11, 2023). The International Journal of Children’s Rights. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4506603 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4506603

Policy brief/Info-sheet

Sweeney M and Morgera E, Don’t forget a healthy ocean as part of children’s right to a healthy environment, https://oneoceanhub.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/Policy-Brief.pdf

Morgera E, Sweeney M, and Shields S, Report: SDG 14 and Children’s Human Rights, https://oneoceanhub.org/publications/sdg-14-and-childrens-human-rights/

Morgera E and Shields S, Info-sheet: Children’s human rights and ocean plastics, https://oneoceanhub.org/publications/info-sheet-childrens-human-rights-ocean-plastics/


Febrica S, Advancing children’s rights through nature-based solutions, https://oneoceanhub.org/advancing-childrens-rights-through-nature-based-solutions/

Morgera E, The ocean is included in the Zero Draft of the UN General Comment on Children’s rights to a healthy environment, https://oneoceanhub.org/the-ocean-is-included-in-the-zero-draft-of-the-un-general-comment-on-childrens-rights-to-a-healthy-environment/#:~:text=The%20section%20in%20the%20Zero,the%20marine%20environment%20that%20are

Morgera E and Febrica S, Connecting children’s human rights and a healthy ocean. https://www.iucn.org/story/202212/connecting-childrens-human-rights-and-healthy-ocean

Shields S, Highlighting the role of the ocean in the context of children’s rights to a healthy environment in the midst of the climate crisis, https://oneoceanhub.org/highlighting-the-role-of-the-ocean-in-the-context-of-childrens-rights-to-a-healthy-safe-and-sustainable-environment-in-the-midst-of-a-climate-crisis/