Does Every Child Have The Right To Nature?

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

Writing in The Guardian, Tony King, head of policy for the Scottish Wildlife Trust, argues:

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!

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Photo Credit: iStock


Oleg Kobetz
Oleg Kobets4 years ago


Shaheen N.
Shaheen N4 years ago

All living beings have a right to nature.

Lilithe Magdalene

Every HUMAN has the right to nature! It is an integral part of who we are, not some separate commodity.

Moertl M.
Martha M6 years ago

We should stop from making the Earth overcrowded. In that case human and "other" animals will have a natural living space on it.

Shirley Marsh
Shirley Marsh6 years ago

This would be funny if it were not so sad. What an indictment against humanity that we have to get a resolution signed by the United Nations conferring something that I would have thought would be a given - access to the natural world!

Shel G; I agree with you also. We must curb population to 'replacement' levels only, and the way to do that voluntarily is to make free birth control options available to everyone everywhere.

Marcia H; I'm also shocked that the US was one of only two nations (the other being Somalia!) not to sign the treaty. It would be interesting for all of us to know why. Maybe he/she took refuge in the toilet so as to avoid having to vote against the interests of the 'Cartel of 12'?

Myriam G.
Myriam G6 years ago

Nature is essential for growing up, just like healthy food, clean water, and air that's not polluted.
I just read my comment, and realised that healthy food, clean water and fresh air ALL COME from Nature. Of course kids need Nature, and in more than one way!

Shel G.
Michelle G6 years ago

Sorry to be a grinch here, but the only way children are going to continue to have access to nature is if people stop having so many of them!!! Green spaces are being turned into housing developments in order to meet the housing needs of the exponentially growing population. Think about how the landscape has changed in your own lifetime - I think most people can easily think of an area that was a field or a forest and has now been developed. Protecting a few little parks in vast sprawls of housing doesn't make much of a difference.
As unpopular as the topic is, the subject really should be that population growth should be curbed so that there are green spaces left in 10 and 20 years time.

Dave C.
David C6 years ago

we start off naturally and return to nature in the yes we should know nature as much as possible at all times in life....

Pat Vee
Pat Vee6 years ago

Oops missed a few words out[ in it if parents ]

Pat Vee
Pat Vee6 years ago

All children have the right to explore nature,how else are they able to appreciate the wonder of it all?TV.and books are good but you cannot smell the earth, rain, or flowers,feel the wind on your face,from tv .or books.The only way to truly learn about nature and the environment is to be envolved in it.And children will only become involved it parents them selves are and encourage their children to do the same.Its a sad time when we talk childrens RIGHTS to nature,surley it goes without saying.......