Why do we need a #COPforChildren?

Children are the most affected, least responsible for climate change, and have not been heard or prioritized in COP discussions and negotiations

Almost half the world’s children – 1 billion of 2.2 billion total – live in extremely high climate risk conditions, that is, in areas subject to floods, heat waves, and other severe phenomena, according to UNICEF. That’s not all: more than one in four deaths of children under 5 years of age is directly or indirectly related to environmental risks.

Problems such as air pollution, water contamination, food shortages or precarious sanitation and hygiene as a result of the climate emergency generated by consumption and the way in which goods and food are produced, hit children the hardest, causing lifelong troubles. 

Although already greatly affected and not at all responsible for the current state of affairs, children are not heard or prioritized in the discussions and negotiations of COP, or Convention of the Parties, the annual meetings of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), in which member countries address the issue and close agreements with the aim of stopping the Earth’s temperature increase, reducing the impact on people and the environment.

To date, no decision taken within COP has focused on protecting children and adolescents in face of the climate crisis. And only 2.4% of the main multilateral climate funds support programs that take this population into account. The proposal for COP28, which will be held between November 30th and December 12th, in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, is to change this reality and begin the construction of a Children’s COP. 

Aligned with leading international organizations, Alana has been opening up spaces to directly influence negotiations and coordination so that adaptation and mitigation plans begin to consider the specific needs of children and cover them thoroughly, observing rights and interests, in addition to listening to them in debate spaces and include them in signed agreements. 

“A Children’s COP would make visible the impact of the climate crisis on the lives and rights of children and adolescents, reflecting in the commitments of countries, especially Brazil towards COP30, companies, and philanthropic foundations. Children and teenagers have already actively contributed to climate action. Now we need to listen to them and actually include them in global decisions.”, says JP Amaral, Environment and Climate Manager at Alana.

The Convention on the Rights of the Child itself, the most accepted human rights instrument in universal history, ratified by 196 countries, provides for children’s participation in matters that involve them. According to Article 12, “States Parties shall ensure to children who are capable of formulating their own views the right to express their opinions freely on all matters relating to them, and such views shall be considered, depending on the child’s age and maturity.”

At COP27, which took place in 2022, in Egypt, Alana achieved significant results, with the #KidsFirst campaign, such as the historic inclusion of several measures regarding children in the final decision. Now, it’s time to build the Children’s Action Plan (CAP). At COP28, the goal will be to consolidate this plan politically, focusing on dialogue with the presidency, led by the United Arab Emirates, and on articulating endorsement of this agenda with other countries.

A Children’s Action Plan would establish objectives and activities in priority areas designed to promote knowledge and understanding of child-sensitive climate action, taking into account not only rights but also their voices, through full, equal, and meaningful participation in the UNFCCC process.

At the UNFCCC, Parties must bring coherence between the climate agenda, the work of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment 26, which deals with the Rights of the Child and the Environment, with a special focus on Climate Change, and the UN Secretary-General’s renewed focus on children, young people, and intergenerational equity.

Six targets of the Children’s Action Plan

1. Children’s participation and leadership

Parties’ delegations working at COP must allow children to participate in all processes, as part of the official national delegation, and create space and opportunity for children’s safe and meaningful participation as Observers. For their voices to be heard, it is necessary to carry out a risk assessment and develop a comprehensive protection plan, as well as ensuring that information related to safety and security is appropriate and accessible to children. There is knowledge and good practice in the child rights community about appropriate and effective methodologies for meaningful and accessible participation that could be used – international cooperation with relevant organizations could support this institutional learning process.

2. Education, knowledge generation and communication

The Climate Empowerment Action (ACE) is adopted by the UNFCCC and encompasses empowering all members of society to engage in climate action through education, training, public awareness, public participation, public access to information, and international cooperation. The ACE agenda must consider the needs and priorities of children and their participation must be guaranteed in negotiations. Furthermore, the Children’s Action Plan will contribute to the implementation of child-related measures set out in the ACE action plan at COP27, which includes organizing a joint session to discuss ways to improve understanding of children’s role in accelerating the implementation of ACE; promotion of regional and local networks and platforms that support ACE, encouraging children’s involvement; and mapping and compiling existing guidelines and best practices with regards to early childhood education and empowerment in climate action, with special attention to gender equality and the inclusion of people with disabilities.

3. COP location suitable for children

The UNFCCC and the COP Presidency must ensure children’s participation before, during and after the meeting, creating space and opportunities for safe and meaningful collaboration by children in all discussions, panels, and processes. It is necessary to structure and implement child safeguarding procedures and policies. COPs can be stressful, with intense negotiations, large, noisy venues, and long meetings. Therefore, children’s well-being needs to be considered and supported. As well as risks related to travel, privacy, bullying, intimidation, and exposure in the media. It is necessary to work together with children to define these risks and mitigation strategies, and also create an inviting place for children and their caregivers. In this direction, the COP Fit for Children report provides an assessment and recommendations based on the experience of past COPs.

4. Child-sensitive climate action measures and implementation

Place the defense of children’s rights at the center of climate change response, in a comprehensive framework, including adaptation, mitigation, financing, and loss and damage, also highlighting areas for future action (e.g. ocean-based climate action, which aims to protect and restore the health of marine ecosystems and build a sustainable ocean economy), with equal attention to technology-driven initiatives and nature-based approaches to climate change. Climate action plans must ensure that the care of young children is a priority, including health, nutrition, responsive care, safety, security, and early learning, including early ecological education.

5. Measures in response to children affected by inequality and discrimination

Ensure that children from marginalized communities or in vulnerable situations where intersecting inequalities and discrimination exacerbate the harms of climate impacts are duly considered. Also, ensure their equitable participation, so they are included in global responses to climate change. To this purpose, use the compilation and analysis of data that includes the child’s age, gender, and disability.

 6. Monitoring and reporting

Improve monitoring of the implementation of measures in response to the needs and interests of children and coherence between the climate agenda, the work of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child and the UN Secretary-General’s renewed focus on children, young people, and intergenerational equity by incorporating greater focus on children’s rights into the UNFCCC process. Reports need to ensure a deadline and frequency to constantly evaluate and inform the community about the results of actions implemented by Parties in relation to children’s rights.


Easy-to-understand communication and digital access are highlights of the 16th Conference of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities

“Leaving no one behind means not leaving anyone offline,” emphasized António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, addressing digital inclusion at the annual meeting, attended by Alana’s legal and international advisor

Over a billion people worldwide have some form of disability—including approximately 240 million children—according to data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

In support of this population, the United Nations General Assembly ratified the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). The Conference of States Parties promotes implementation of this international treaty, and is an important forum for advancing disability rights at a global level.

Alana participated in the 16th Conference of States Parties (COSP) in New York, United States, from June 12 to 15, 2023, and engaged in discussions about topics such as equitable access and inclusion in sexual and reproductive health services for individuals with disabilities, digital inclusion, and the rights of underrepresented segments of the disabled community, including children and adults with intellectual disabilities.

The COSP convened representatives from countries that have ratified the CRPD, including Brazil, and also included participation from civil society organizations advocating for disability rights. The annual meeting at the UN headquarters in New York takes place to assess the CRPD’s implementation, facilitate exchange of experiences, and deliberate on challenges and best practices in advancing disability rights.

“Participation in the COSP reinforces Alana’s international engagement alongside other civil society organizations that can contribute and share experiences on the implementation of the Convention, especially from the perspective of children and adolescents with disabilities in the Global South, and individuals with intellectual disabilities,” comments Letícia Carvalho, a lawyer and international advisor at Alana.

Easy-to-understand communication
In 2022, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution to promote easy-to-understand communication. The resolution provides guidance for conveying information in an accessible and uncomplicated manner, in order to make it more understandable for people with different levels of linguistic ability or reading comprehension difficulties.

At COSP, the Brazilian Federation of Down Syndrome Associations (FBASD) and the Jô Clemente Institute (IJC) presented an initiative that engages people with Down Syndrome and intellectual disabilities as advocates for their rights and those of their communities. The initiative is being carried out with Alana’s support.

In recent months, these organizations have collaborated with self-advocacy groups to influence legislation and proposals related to the rights of individuals with Down Syndrome in areas such as education, health, and employment.

Digital access

This year’s conference also underscored the importance of digital inclusion, which ensures that digital environments are accessible to all, including individuals with disabilities. Assistive technologies, which augment the capabilities of people with disabilities, were a central theme.

“Leaving no one behind means not leaving anyone offline,” stated António Guterres, Secretary-General of the UN, at the conference’s opening. Accessibility is a prerequisite for equity. At the same time, the lack of digital inclusion risks further marginalizing individuals with disabilities, particularly when digital technologies are not designed with accessibility in mind.

“Our participation highlighted our commitment to the broader understanding that individuals with disabilities form a diverse group, with intersections such as age, class, and race. These must be factored into the implementation of public policies,” noted Letícia Carvalho.


Alana joins Child Rights Connect’s 40th anniversary celebration, amplifying the voices of children in the Global South at the UN

Alana’s international agenda at the UN reaffirms their commitment to a world where children from Brazil and the Global South are protected, heard, and have their rights respected

75% of the world’s children live in the Global South, underlying the necessity of considering their unique circumstances and concerns in decision-making spaces. In response to this need, Alana attended international advocacy meetings at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, from May 18 to 26, 2023, promoting the rights of children and adolescents.

The children of the Global South, including Brazil, are on the frontline of the climate crisis, suffering its earliest and most severe impacts. According to UNICEF, nine out of ten children in Latin America and the Caribbean are exposed to at least two climate and environmental shocks, such as cyclones and heatwaves. They are also disproportionately affected by social, educational, and economic disparities that violate their fundamental rights, which must be guaranteed with absolute priority. Children in the Global South not only bear the brunt of these challenges but also offer distinct and innovative perspectives. They should be recognized as catalysts for change, instrumental in crafting solutions.

“As a Brazilian civil society organization with consultative status in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), our presence at the UN headquarters in Geneva allows Alana to reinforce its influence within the international community and contribute to the global guarantee of children and adolescents’ rights,” says Letícia Carvalho, a lawyer and international advisor at Alana.

The agenda in Geneva was driven by the 40th anniversary celebration for Child Rights Connect, the world’s largest network of organizations working for children’s rights. Alana is the only Brazilian civil society organization participating in this group.

The event focused on the transformative power of children in championing their own rights and featured attendees such as UN High Commissioner Volker Türk, members of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, and Brazilian teenage activist Catarina Lorenzo, who serves on the Child Advisory Team, a group of children and adolescents consulting for the network.

Geneva is also the venue for meetings of the Committee on the Rights of the Child, where independent experts review the implementation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child by states. The treaty has been ratified by 196 countries, including Brazil, and is the most widely accepted human rights instrument in history. The United States is the only country that has not committed to its terms.

The Committee on the Rights of the Child also develops general comments to broaden understanding of the Convention, addressing specific topics and detailing practical application of the treaty. This year, the Committee will release General Comment No. 26, focusing on children’s rights and the environment, with a special focus on climate change.

In a meeting with Ann Skelton, who assumed the Committee’s presidency for the next two years, Alana reiterated the importance of ensuring that the rights of children most vulnerable to the impacts of the climate emergency are reflected in the comment. Alana initially presented this perspective at the regional Latin American debate, held in Buenos Aires in 2022, earlier in the process of drafting the comment.

“Our participation in this international forum was an essential step for us to realize the full potential of advocating for the protection and guarantee of children and adolescents’ rights. This should be an absolute priority globally, with special consideration for the unique perspective of the Global South,” added Letícia Carvalho.


Biodiversity: why it matters to children that we talk about it

May 22 is The International Day for Biological Diversity, a date created by the United Nations (UN) to encourage us to protect the huge variety of animals, plants, microorganisms, ecosystems and living beings that inhabit the world. What is the importance of biodiversity for the present and future of children? Preserving is essential to maintain the Earth’s ecological balance and ensure our survival.

What’s happening with biodiversity?

According to the Living Planet report, produced by WWF, the world has lost 69% of its wildlife in the last 40 years. According to the UN, today, about 25% of all animal and plant species in the world are threatened with extinction. These findings are extremely worrying and have implications in several fields. Nature is responsible for pollination, which guarantees us food, for purifying air and water, for regulating the climate, among others. Without the preservation of biodiversity, all these aspects are put at risk, which can cause serious consequences for human health and the economy.

In addition, the loss of biodiversity directly affects the food chain and food security. The degradation of ecosystems and loss of natural habitats reduce the availability of food and increase the vulnerability of communities that depend directly on nature to survive. The loss of species and ecosystems can also lead to reduced agricultural production, the spread of disease and also the loss of jobs in sectors as diverse as tourism and fisheries.

Biodiversity and children

Amidst this great global crisis are children. They are the most vulnerable to the effects of biodiversity loss, and suffer the consequences related to:

– Access to food: soil devastation, the imbalance of the food chain with the disappearance of animals and pollinating insects, reducing the amount of food essential for the physical and mental development of children;

– Water quality: original vegetation and fauna are essential for drinking water on the planet, which directly affects children, as every two minutes a child dies from diseases caused by contaminated water;

– Contact with nature: children are living in ever-larger cities with a shortage of green spaces and difficult access to those that exist. As a result, they know less about the planet’s biodiversity – fundamental for their quality of life, and to develop a sense of belonging and care for nature.

How to reverse biodiversity loss?

We already know it is necessary to implement effective environmental conservation policies, promote attractive practices and encourage restoration of degraded ecosystems. To create protected areas and regulate the use of natural resources are important measures for the conservation of biodiversity. As well as adopting environmental agricultural practices, such as agroecology and organic agriculture, to reduce the impact of human activity on nature.

Another essential strategy is the restoration of degraded areas. The recovery of ecosystems can be done by planting seedlings and promoting natural regeneration. But for all this to happen, we need to be clear about the importance of biodiversity and understand that nature is not an infinite well of resources, that we need to reduce our pressure. If we want to survive, and deliver, in the present, a future to our children.


Alana signs for the companies’ commitment to the rights of children and adolescents

The signing aims to strengthen the engagement of companies in adopting effective measures to promote the rights of children and adolescents in all their activities

Companies are also responsible for guaranteeing the rights of children and adolescents. The Federal Constitution (CF) of 1988 defines that children and adolescents are an absolute priority for our country and protecting children is a responsibility shared by all of us, families, the State, society, including companies that play an important role in this defense.

In a historic initiative, Alana, the Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship (MDHC), the United Nations (UN) Global Pact and the Brazilian Coalition to End of Violence Against Children and Adolescents signed a Protocol of Intent to strengthen the private sector’s commitment to promote these groups rights, as established in article 227 of the CF.

This signing represents an important milestone in the defense of the rights of children and adolescents in Brazil.

The Protocol was signed on May 18, as one of the 18 measures announced at a ceremony at Planalto Palace conducted by the Republic’s Vice President Geraldo Alckmin, and by the Minister of Human Rights and Citizenship, Silvio Almeida, which marked the National Day to Combat Abuse and Sexual Exploitation against Children and Adolescents.

“The private sector has been expanding its activities in the socio-environmental field, and this view has evolved along with the ESG agenda. However, understanding the need to prioritize strategies and actions that directly affect babies, children and adolescents is still practically non-existent. And this is an urgent call. We are not talking about the future, but the present and the root of all problems and all possible solutions”, says Mariana Mecchi, Director of Expansion at Alana.

To support companies, the Protocol includes actions such as the creation of a manual to prevent and combat abuse and sexual exploitation of children and adolescents in companies and mapping harmful conducts and good practices in companies performances in Brazil, in matters such as protection of children and adolescents in the digital environment; family policies in the workplace that support professionals in their roles as mothers, fathers and caregivers; and the elimination of child labor in all value chains of companies.

Check out the ceremony (in Portuguese):


Alana Foundation and USP unite to create a research and advocacy network on Down syndrome

World Down Syndrome Day marks the beginning of a partnership between institutions to encourage research and school programs for people with intellectual disabilities

The whole of society must be committed to guaranteeing the rights of people with disabilities so that they can have a full professional and academic career, with quality of life, and fulfill their full potential with dignity, equality and security.

More than 12 million Brazilians have some type of disability, according to the IBGE. Among them, there are around 300,000 people with Down syndrome, according to the Brazilian Federation of Down Syndrome Associations (FBASD). But many of them remain outside the labor market or do not reach higher levels of education due to the various barriers they face throughout their lives. Likewise, research in the health area is insufficient for not making the necessary investments and training and not considering the specificities of these people.

Facing this scenario, Alana joined forces with the Dean of Research and Innovation at the University of São Paulo (USP), in association with professors Orestes Forlenza (Department of Psychiatry at FMUSP), Wilson Araújo da Silva (FMRP-USP) and Daniele de Paula Faria (LIM-43, HCFMUSP), to offer on World Down Syndrome Day, March 21, a workshop for researchers, health professionals and managers on advocacy and incentives for research on Down syndrome.

The date marked the beginning of discussions at the university for the creation of a Brazilian Research Network on Down Syndrome and a School Program at USP for people with intellectual disabilities.

“It was a historic day in which we were able to debate with the scientific community, civil society and government authorities on guidelines that can change the reality of people with Down syndrome in the country. We are initiating a partnership that seeks to build a university academic path for people with intellectual disabilities, in addition to increasing the workload on the subject in university courses”, comments Claudia Moreira, a researcher at Alana Foundation.

“We left the event with the commitment of the Secretary of Policies and Strategic Programs of the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, Márcia Barbosa, to dialogue for the construction of a national research network on Down syndrome. We are very excited about the next steps”, she concludes.

To watch the workshop in full (in Portuguese), click here.


Alana is accepted as Special Consultant to the UN Economic and Social Council

The UN Economic and Social Council is the main forum for the discussion of international socio-economic issues within the United Nations. As a Consultant, Alana will seek to expand and bring forward demands and particularities to guarantee the rights of children in Brazil and in the global south

In December 2022 Alana obtained the status of Special Consultant at the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations (UN). For a civil society organization, this status allows it to engage with the UN in a variety of ways, one of which is by participating in the Human Rights Council and, under specific conditions, in some meetings of the General Assembly.

By becoming a Special Consultant, Alana starts to strengthen ties with the main organization coordinating the economic and social activities of 14 UN agencies, including UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) UNDP (United Nations Development Programme). “When civil society organizations obtain consultative status with ECOSOC, they have the right to actively participate in the work of the Council”, explains Ana Claudia Cifali, Alana’s legal coordinator.

The granting of consultative status marks the recognition of a work of political advocacy and technical contribution to the UN that Alana has been building and expanding over the years, especially in bringing demands and particularities to the international debate which guarantee the rights of Brazilian children and of the global south.

As a Special Consultant, Alana can now also send representatives to UN headquarters in New York, in the United States, and Geneva, in Switzerland, and present written and oral statements at meetings and conferences, among other actions that strengthen the relationship with the UN itself.

At the same time, Alana becomes part of a list of other Brazilian entities already recognized internationally for their contributions, such as Conectas Human Rights, the Indigenous Missionary Council (CIMI), Geledés – Black Women’s Institute, Instituto Igarapé, the Sou da Paz Institute, the Federal Council of the Brazilian Bar Association (OAB) and the Engajamundo Youth Association.

“In other words, we can now play an even more effective role in the international community, with the possibility of helping to apply and monitor international agreements, contributing technically, working as an alert agent and carrying out specialized analyzes in the defense of the rights of children. and adolescents, including issues related to the environment and the health of the most vulnerable populations”, concludes Cifali.


Alana Foundation accepted into Elevate Children Funders Group, global network of funders focused on children’s rights

Joining the Elevate Children Funders Group aims at increasing visibility and urgency in guaranteeing children’s rights, giving special attention to childhoods in the Global South

To be in a world where children can exercise their rights and live free and full lives. This is the premise of Elevate Children Funders Group (ECFG), the main global network of collective financiers focused exclusively on the well-being and rights of children and adolescents, which the Alana Foundation will join in 2023. 

With this membership, Alana seeks to further strengthen the childhood agenda in the Global South. “We work with the perspective of guaranteeing the rights of children and young people from the point of view of countries in the Global South. Joining this network we have the opportunity to meet, exchange and cooperate with organizations that also act in the best interests of children and adolescents. It is also an important victory for the multiple childhoods that we have here, as we want to attract investments and develop projects in partnership to guarantee our children rights that are already guaranteed in other countries regarding the agenda of fundamental themes such as, environment social justice climate changes and digital protection”, explains Laís Fleury, Director of International Relations at the Alana Foundation.

Alana Foundation is the first Global South-based member of the Elevate Children Funders Group. Created in 2011, the group currently has 23 members, including the main global financiers and philanthropic consultants who finance children’s rights project around the world. 

The network has invested more than US$1.2 billion in child-friendly causes until 2020. Now, Alana joins the network that includes the participation of organizations that includes Bernard van Leer Foundation, Childhood, Open Society Foundations, among others.  

– Read also: Alana’s executive director, Isabella Henriques, accepts an invitation to participate in the government transition team


At COP27, Alana celebrates recognition of the importance to include children in the design and implementation of climate-related policies

At COP27, after almost three decades of debate, the richest countries also agreed to create a fund to help the most vulnerable nations

COP27, the 27th United Nations Conference on Climate Change, reached its conclusion last Sunday (20). Among the positive points of the edition are the advances in relation to the inclusion of children and adolescents as agents against climate change. That is, they must also be included in the design and implementation of actions.

After almost three decades of debate, the richest countries also agreed to create a fund to help the most vulnerable nations. The COP27 outcome also encourages all member states to include youth representatives (children and youth) and negotiators in their national delegations, and invites future presidencies to continue nominate a youth envoy, in addition to host a Pavilion for Children and Youth, as in 2022.

Attending the event, Pedro Hartung, director of Policies and Children’s Rights at Alana, reckons “it was an important COP for children and their rights. In addition to the creation of the Loss and Damage Fund, which will positively impact children and their families and communities in poor countries of the Global South, children, girls and young people were contemplated in several decisions, showing that children are not only future generations, they are already bearing the dramatic brunt of the climate crisis. Droughts and lack of food, floods and the need to migrate and all other violence resulting from extreme weather events are already part of childhood everyday life. So we need to bring the future now into the present, protecting children and their rights through climate policy and action. And that is what these decisions at COP27 are helping to do, compelling nation states to act now.”

Hartung also highlights the participation of children and young people during the conference, as defined by the meeting’s final document. The Children and Youth Pavilion, led by organizations targeting children and teenagers, was a constant hive of activity. In this context, during COP27, among Alana’s actions was the presentation of the #KidsFirst campaign, carried out in partnership with Our Kids’ Climate and Parents for Future. For Alana’s spokesperson, actions like these are important for children to have influence in their own negotiations and to be able to hold their governments accountable.


All representatives present at COP27 agreed to recognize children as agents of change in addressing and responding to climate change, and encouraged governments to include children in the design and implementation of climate-related policies. They represent a third of the global population, and are the ones who suffer most from the impacts of the climate crisis.

This is particularly the case for children who are already struggling to enjoy their rights, such as children from low-income families, those with disabilities, indigenous people, girls and children on the move.

The final text also recognizes the important role of indigenous peoples, local communities, cities and civil society, including youth and children, in addressing and responding to climate change and stresses the urgent need for multi-level action and cooperation to this respect.

“All governments at COP27 formally agreed and recognized children as agents of change in relation to climate change. This was an important step towards achieving climate justice. But, unfortunately, until we do not prioritize the reduction of fossil fuel burning, children – especially those from the Global South – will continue with their future and their rights threatened”, evaluates Laís Fleury, Director of International Relations at the Alana Foundation.


What is environmental racism?

Have you noticed who are often the populations most affected by the effects of the climate crisis? In many places around the world, racial/ethnic populations in situations of vulnerability are often among the main victims of large city floods, landslides, prolonged droughts and other extreme events caused by global warming. These impacts, which threaten adults and children in different ways, are at the heart of what we call environmental racism.

The term was coined in the 1980s by African-American activist and civil rights advocate Dr. Benjamin Franklin Chavis Jr. He developed the concept at a time of demonstrations by the black movement against environmental injustices in the United States, referencing the unequal way in which the most vulnerable communities are exposed to environmental phenomena and are distanced from decision-making. Since then, confronting socio-environmental inequalities has become an important part of the anti-racist struggle.

– Read also: How does racism reveal itself in the climate crisis and affects childhood?

In 2021, the issue gained even more attention when it was raised by activists at the COP 26 debates in Glasgow, Scotland. There, representatives of the black and indigenous movements in Brazil denounced the problem and demanded effective actions from world leaders. They argued that it is not possible to separate the environmental struggle from the recognition and respect for native peoples and the most vulnerable, and that climate justice must go hand in hand with racial justice.

The issue is also present in the inequalities between the global north and south, a consequence of the processes of colonialism, neoliberalism and globalization. Even today, the arrival of large enterprises in the countries of the global south often leads to the displacement of native populations from their territories, destroying their cultures and impacting the environment.

Environmental racism can be observed from the cities to the countryside. Subject to this history of inequalities are Brazil’s favelas, for example. Although 84% of the Brazilian population lives in urban areas, most of the conflicts in the country are related to climate justice. A study conducted by Fiocruz revealed that over 60% of the conflicts affect precisely the populations that live in the fields, forests and coastal zones. In these areas, the disputes for natural resources are linked to Brazil’s insertion in the international trade, generally with environmentally aggressive practices and resulting in direct impacts on low-income populations and ethnic minorities.

– Read also: ‘School is where the first experiences with racism happen’

The issue, which especially affects black, indigenous and Maroon children, led more than 220 civil society organizations to sign a manifesto against environmental racism at COP 26. At the occasion, the Black Coalition for Rights recalled that the climate crisis is also humanitarian and has a direct impact on the lives of black, Maroon and indigenous populations.

“In Brazil, the majority of the population is black and currently represents 56% of the population. To deny environmental racism is to deny that the Brazilian State is racist. It is to deny the reality of life in the peripheries of large cities, the increase in hunger. It is to deny the violation of the constitutional rights of communities, Maroon territories and indigenous lands. It is to deny the country’s history of urbanization and its deep territorial inequalities,” stated the Coalition in the document.

Nonetheless, Brazil did not recognize the concept of environmental racism at the UN. During a session of the Human Rights Council held in 2021, representatives of the Brazilian government questioned the use of the term, arguing that this was not an “internationally recognized” terminology. For the current government, the relationship between environmental problems and social issues, such as racism, should have a “balanced and integrated approach to the social, economic and environmental dimensions”.

The result is a lack of information about environmental racism in the country, while possible solutions are often discussed only superficially. It is important that we start looking at our past, our present and call things by their real names.

– Read also: Alana brings the reality of childhoods in the face of climate emergency to COP27

It is true that extreme weather events impact everyone, but there is no denying the persistent and structural grouping of those who are most affected. Within this web of vulnerabilities, the black, Maroon, fishing, peripheral, indigenous and riverside populations, especially their children, are paying the highest price. It is necessary to bring the people who suffer climate injustices to the center of the decision-making processes. Only then will it be possible to guarantee a habitable planet for children in the present.

– Read also: Environmental justice: children are the most affected by degradation