The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, signed by every member of the UN except Somalia and the United States, outlines children’s fundamental rights such as the right to an identity, the right to life and development, and the right to be heard.
But what about the right to nature? No government has yet recognized access to nature as a right, yet it can and does deliver benefits to everyone in society.
Every Child Has The Right To Grow Up In A High-Quality, Wildlife-Rich Environment
Governments can and should articulate a new right: that every child and young person has the right to grow up and live in a high-quality, wildlife-rich environment with ready access to the physical and mental health benefits, developmental advantages and play opportunities it affords.
There is a growing and compelling body of evidence that regular and ready access to a wildlife-rich environment is essential for children’s health and wellbeing. Recognising – and acting on – a right to that wildlife-rich world is essential for delivering better health, better educational attainment and better social development. Research published in The Lancet shows that, even after other factors are accounted for, living in a green environment makes people healthier.
Children Who Have Ready Access To Nature Have Better Self-Esteem, Self-Confidence, Initiative
In the U.S., more than one third of children are overweight or obese, but we know that access to attractive, nature-rich greenspace increases physical activity and reduces obesity.
Children who have ready access to the natural environment have better self-esteem, self-confidence, independence, autonomy and initiative than those who don’t. Studies show that just being exposed to nature can improve memory, concentration and grades, and helps in social development.
As a passionate advocate of getting kids into the great outdoors, I’ve written a book, Get Out! 150 Easy Ways for Kids and Grown-Ups to Get Into Nature and Build a Greener Future.
Nature is good for people: let’s recognize the right of every child to live and grow up in a wildlife-rich world!
Photo Credit: iStock
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