Children as young as seven have their voices heard
Scotland’s Climate Assembly is the first to include the views of over 100 children through an innovative partnership with the Children’s Parliament.
The Assembly’s recommendations, published today, include calls to action from children as young as seven.
Inclusion of children’s perspectives and recommendations in a Climate Assembly report is a world first.
The children’s calls to action inspired and motivated adult Assembly members (aged 16+) to consider the climate emergency from a child’s perspective and have informed their final recommendations laid in the Scottish Parliament this week.
Working together, the involvement of Children’s Parliament has meant that people of all generations have been included in the Climate Assembly deliberations, with the youngest aged seven and the eldest aged 82.
Recommendations from the children include shortening work and school hours so that “people can have more time to do things like grow their own food, plant trees and repair things at home or in their area” and a national tree planting day, as well as encouraging landowners to use their land to protect the environment, including the protection of peatlands.
The positive impact of the children’s contribution has been highlighted by adult Assembly members, and demonstrated through the clear integration of the children’s calls to action and investigation findings within the Climate Assembly recommendations.
Commenting on the launch of the report, Cathy McCulloch, co-director of the Children’s Parliament, said: “A world safe of climate disasters, where children can live freely and without worry of losing their homes to flooding or their food to drought, is integral to their human rights.
“The children who took part in the Climate Assembly undoubtedly influenced the final recommendations in the report for the better, which just goes to show the difference children can, and do, make to our society each and every day. It is our hope that their calls to action are heard, as they continue to campaign for a brighter future for themselves, their friends and family.
“This a world first and Scotland should hold its head high in its incorporation of the United Nations on the Rights of the Child, and the change this is making to policy making, society and individuals the length and breadth of the country.”
Just over 100 children from across Scotland took part in Children’s Parliament’s ‘investigation’ for the Climate Assembly, and spent five months learning about climate change evidence, and sharing their views and ideas on what Scotland should do to tackle the climate emergency declared by the First Minister in 2019. 12 children - ‘the Investigators’ - aged 9-12 led the ‘investigation’, further exploring the evidence with the support of climate experts, and representing the wider group’s views and ideas to the adult Assembly Members in a series of short films.
Twelve-year-old Margaret from the Western Isles, one of the Children’s Parliament’s ‘investigators’, said: “My message to party leaders is that they take our calls forward. It’s our country, too, and we have the right to be heard and listened to. If our calls were taken forward, we would want to be able to say: that was our call to action and stand proud of our country knowing that we are doing something about it.”
Ellie, member of the Climate Assembly, also commented on the Children’s Parliament’s ‘investigation’: “It was great to hear from the Children's Climate Assembly. The clarity of their suggestions informed the way we framed some of the recommendations which we included in our report. It was also heart wrenching at times hearing them voice their concerns about the current situation and the urgency of the global situation.”
Cathy McCulloch added: “With COP26 and Globe Legislators summit coming to Scotland later this year, this is a critical moment for Scotland to show itself to be an international leader in the response to tackling the climate emergency. Children are set to benefit most from the actions we take today to protect our planet and its climate.”
Professor David Boyd, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and Environment, said: “Every child has the right to live in a healthy and sustainable environment, which includes a safe climate. Children's ideas for addressing the climate emergency are clear, bold and exciting, and we have a duty as adults to listen and act."