Children’s Rights and the Physical Environment

There is an intimate link between the physical world children occupy and the quality of their lives. Their housing, the water they drink, the air they breathe, the traffic on their streets, and the quality of their schools and neighbourhoods all have impacts on their health, happiness and long term development. In many ways, and for a number of reasons, these effects are more pronounced or different for children than they are for adults.This relationship is often overlooked or underplayed in the work of child- focused agencies and organizations, many of which concentrate primarily on social interventions. When these groups do tackle environmental problems, they are seldom equipped to do so on a significant scale. On the other hand, agencies and organizations more routinely involved in the protection of the natural envi- ronment, or the planning, provision or upgrading of housing, infrastructure and common space generally have little awareness of the special needs of children.This paper reviews current knowledge and understandings of the relationship between children and their physical environments, drawing on research in a number of fields and on practical experience from various parts of the world. The programming implications of this relationship are not discussed here. Rather, this is an attempt to provide the necessary background for such discussions. The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, so widely used as a point of departure for addressing children’s issues, serves here as an organizing framework in reviewing the relationship between children and their environments.

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Title:  Children’s Rights and the Physical Environment

Author(s): Sheridan Bartlett

Publication Date: 2002

Publisher: Save the Children, Sweden