Giving our youngest generation a voice in COP26 climate conversations

Published November 1, 2021

Young children need healthy environments to thrive but the entire planet is under threat from our inaction on climate change – and so is the future of children born today.

The agreements made at the COP climate conference in Glasgow – and the actions taken after it – will have more impact on babies than on anyone reading this blog. But babies and toddlers aren’t in focus during climate negotiations. Their needs are rarely discussed by the decision makers, experts or advocates at events like COP26.

Economists have grossly undervalued the lives of young people and future generations who are most at threat from the devastating impacts of climate change”, according to Professor Nicholas Stern. Their future depends on our accountability and action.

We need to put young children at the centre of climate conversations and prioritise climate justice for the next generations. This has the potential to unite diverse agendas and identify intersectional solutions that can advance environmental protection while also improving health and social outcomes for communities around the world.

Climate parent activist movements are growing, and their collective voice – when combined with youth activists – is resonating with increasing force. But whether or not we are parents, we all need to claim our role as caregivers for young children and our planet and take serious actions that guarantee children a healthy and secure future.

If you would like to learn and engage in dialogues – at COP26 and beyond – that give babies and toddlers a voice, we have identified opportunities:

Highlighted session

11 November: In-person and online event

Cities 4 Children: ‘Our climate, our future – an intergenerational dialogue’

Details: 14:00 – 15.30 BST COP26 Green Zone Tower Base North. Watch online.



Highlighted campaign

No new fossil fuels climate-parent letter
Parents For Future Global and Our Kids’ Climate are bringing other parent-led organisations together including Moms Clean Air Force (U.S.), Warrior Moms (India), Mums For Lungs (U.K.) and the Ella Roberta Family Foundation (U.K.), and many other parent-climate groups for the biggest mobilisation of parents calling on heads of state to stop investing in fossil fuels.

Sign the letter before 2 November.

More opportunities

31 October: Installation
Pollution Pods are spreading awareness for the need for clean air and arrive in Glasgow on 31 October. The initiative is being organized by the Clean Air Fund.
Location: outside Gartnavel General Hospital

1 November: In-person event
COP26 Cycling Assembly
BYCS is coordinating a gathering with other cycling advocacy organisations and will share a climate statement centered on cycling.
Details 18:00 BST Gartnavel General Hospital (open entry)

2 November: In-person and online event
Energy, air pollution and health: Delivering energy systems that protect climate and health 
Jane Burston, Executive Director of the Clean Air Fund will be speaking.
Details: 11:15 – 12:15 BST  WHO Health Pavilion, Blue Zone COP26 venue.
Watch online.

5 November: In-person and online event
Cleaning Up Our Act: The Air Our Children Need to Breathe
Details: 9:00 – 09:45 BST at The Forum NYTimes Climate Hub Editorial Session
Online participation via registration. 

5 November: In-person and online event
As vozes das múltiplas infâncias sobre emergência climática: por um futuro no presente
Details: 10:00 – 10:45 BST COP26 Blue Zone, Brazil Climate Action Hub – Hall 4, entrada 4B – Pavilhão 42. More information. 
Watch online. 

8 November: Online event
What do we owe our children? A #COP26 conversation about our duties to children and future generations
Details: 13:00 – 14:00 EST Join the conversation led by capita.

5 and 6 November: Installation
The #FreeToPlayOutside campaign is making the impact of air pollution visible. The campaign which started in Brazil is raising awareness amongst parents and city leaders on the importance of clean air for children. The big grey bubble installation is currently scheduled to make appearances inside COP26 on 5 November (17:00 BST) and on 6 November (11:30 BST) at the global march in the parents aisle. Learn more here:

9 November: In-person and online event
Justiça Climática: Esperança, Resiliência e a Luta por um Futuro Sustentável
Details: 09:20 – 10:10 BST COP26 Blue Zone, Brazil Climate Action Hub – Hall 4, entrada 4B – Pavilhão 42. More information. 
Watch online. 

10 November: In-person and online event
Where the streets have no air: South-south experiences on citizen air quality measurements
Horizonte Ciudadano will share the Aires Nuevos initiative, a citizen air quality network focused on improving young children’s health.  
Details: 10:00 – 11:30 BST COP26 Green Zone Tower Base South.
Watch online.

10 November: In-person and online event
Fostering connections between nature and play, for children’s well-being and resilience.
Details: 11:15 – 12:45 BST COP26 Blue Zone Resilience Hub.
Watch online. 

Are you hosting or participating in an event or initiative that tackles climate change from an early childhood perspective? If so, please write to us and share:

This year’s Early Childhood Matters Journal will also explore the connections between early childhood and climate change. You can already sign up to receive a digital copy when it launches later this year.