Children Rights and Climate Commitments

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    Stockholm (NordSIP) – As the world focuses on dealing with yet another wave of COVID-19 cases while reeling from the relatively disappointing outcome of the COP26, it is easy to lose track of the most fragile members of society children.

    Reminding us all to not lose track of what matters, the latest report from the Global Child Forum (GCF) a Stockholm-based children rights advocate, warns that companies need to urgently address the implications of their climate actions on children.

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    “With COP26 as a backdrop and the growing demand for climate justice, companies need to understand that all efforts to reduce negative environmental impact need to take human rights into consideration. Most companies have a major opportunity to improve in this area and can use a child rights perspective to achieve this,” Cajsa Wiking (Pictured), Secretary General, Global Child Forum said on this occasion.

    The Impact of Environmental Policies on Children

    The results from the GCF flagship “The State of Children’s Rights and Business 2021” study show that despite some improvement in overall scores from 2019, a closer look at within the Community & Environment impact area company scores reveals that there is a weak understanding of the impact of environmental policies on children.

    The report was produced in collaboration with the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and surveyed 832 of the world’s largest companies and found a slight improvement from the last study in 2019 from a score 5.2 (2019) to a score of 5.5 in this year’s study – but still a significant distance to the top possible score of 10.

    The climate crisis is a child rights crisis. According to the GCF, companies have a tremendous impact on the environment and communities that they operate in. Companies have to understand the impact of the climate goals peldges that they have spent the last years making.

    “Many companies are relatively good at talking about climate and show what they’re doing in this area, but environmental, climate and social impact are still very much in silos,” Nina Vollmer, Research Manager, Global Child Forum added. “Children are exposed to multiple different climate shocks, and due to their vulnerability, suffer from the effects of pollution and poor air quality, food insecurity and forced migration due to climate degradation. Children and youth are also showing signs of psychological harm from worrying about the world they will grow up in. By taking children’s needs and perspectives as the starting point for what they do to mitigate their environmental and climate impact, companies have the opportunity to create a truly sustainable strategy for the future of their operations as well as the planet,” Vollmer continued

    Nordic companies outperform the rest of the world

    Although Europe and North America’s stand out as comparative mature regions when it comes to understanding their sustainability impact and human rights responsibilities, a more granular view of the Nordic Region shows that Finland and Norway are leading. Howeverm Danish companies are lagging behind their Nordic peers.

    According to the report, only 9% of companies benchmarked can be categorized as Leaders. Norsk Hydro, Volvo and Neste are all high scoring companies and they show a clear commitment to children by integrating a children’s rights perspective into their operations.

    “We strongly believe in creating a better future for children and young people. Global Child Forum’s benchmark has provided important insight into how we can improve our business practices to better support and safeguard children and young people. With the help of the benchmark and with Global Child Forum’s expertise, we’ve built a program for child rights. Through actions for improvement and a governance system to drive the actions, we aim to create more awareness in the organization and strengthen our efforts to support children’s rights. Working with children’s rights is an iterative process as there is always new ways to improve, which the benchmark helps illuminate,” Åsne Burgess, Social Responsibility Manager, Group Sustainability, Norsk Hydro, commented.

    Image courtesy of Global Child Forum
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