The Мinistry of Еnvironment andWater and UNICEF Bulgaria presented “General Comment№26onChildren’s Rights and the Environment with aFocus on Climate Change” to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.

UNICEF reports that the Minister of Environment and Water, Yuliyan Popov, theMinister of Labour and Social Politics, Ivanka Shalapatova, and Velina Todorova (a member of the Committee on the Rights of the Child), UN’s representative for Bulgaria, Kristina de Broin, children, and some organisations, related to the environment, took part in a discussion on the occasion of the new document in Bulgaria.

Environmental damage is a major threat to children’s rightsworldwide. A clean, healthy, and sustainable environment is the key to children being able to exercise their rights. The comment presented explains why urgent action on the environmental problems is needed and what the governments should do to defend all children’s rights.

Kristina de Broyn, representative of UNICEF Bulgaria: “Children are least responsible for the climate crisis but suffer the most from its consequences. Every year, 1.7 million children under the age of 5 lose their lives because of preventable environmental harm. The General Comment is an urgent invocation for countries to prioritise every aspect of childhood, affected by climate change, for example, children’s education rights and a healthy environment.”

For the first time, the General Comment provided a comprehensive interpretation of the UN’s Convention for Children’s Rights.

According to Yuliyan Popov and the Government, both people and industries are doing a lot to limit the effects of climate change, but this is far from enough. He noted that in the last 30 years, child mortality rates have decreased, life expectancy has increased, the air quality in Sofia and across the country has improved, and food quality has also got better.

Minister Popov: “So do notgettricked by climate anxiety. It is important to focus on finding solutions to slowing down and adapting to climate change and to reducing industrial greenhouse gases.”

According to the General Comment,it should be decided whetherall decisions’ influence onchildren’s rightshave a positive impact. Climate-related emergencies, biodiversity destruction, and pollution were also addressed in relation to children’s rights.

Minister Shalapatova: “Children are more vulnerable than adults when it comes to dealing with the consequences of climate change. This is why it is important to the Ministry of Labour and Social Politics and me to do everything possible to prevent negative effects on children’s lives. ”

Doctor Velina Todorova, member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, said: “The General Comment №26 is important because it recognises a newright for a healthier, more sustainable environment.”

The General Comment clarifies that children’s opinions must be respected in environmental decision-making. It also stresses the importance of youth’s education on ecology so that they can protect themselves from environmental damage.

Tsvetelina Garelova, UN youth delegate: “I meet a lot of young people, interestedin this subject, and they have proposals for action. We must participate in decision-making because this affects our children and us more than anyone else.”

The General Comment is the result of a global intergenerational agreement, which is the aftermath of broad consultations with UN members, international organisations, human rights institutions, and the children themselves.

The report “Places and Spaces” compares 39 countries from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and the European Unionand how they create a healthy environment for children. It studies different harmful pollutants, access to sunlight, green areas, safe roads, usage of resources, and e-waste disposal. Bulgaria ranks 35th out of the 39 countries on the list.



For 77 years UNICEF has been working in places with the most severe conditions to help the most vulnerable children. In over 190 countries and territories they work for every individual child, everywhere, to create a better world for everyone. For more information, visit

Translation: Malena Petrova