“I am worried about the problems called “people”. They are very obstinate and nothing can be ever explained to them. And there is also the problem that we all have different opinions and they really do not care about the fact that the air will be polluted, that streams will become sewers, that animals have the right to live. When all this is mentioned to them, they just say that it is better to be silent and not talk about it because who knows what can happen. I think exactly the opposite.” (a 15-year-old girl)
Child Rights Centre conducted the research “The Rights of the Child to a Healthy Environment in the Republic of Serbia” with an aim to map challenges in realising the rights of the child to a healthy environment in the Republic of Serbia, examine the views of children and youth about the level of realisation of these rights, and create recommendations for further improvement of the rights of the child to a healthy environment.
The research methodology was based on an online questionnaire for children and the information gathered through focus groups held representatives of the Secretariat for Environmental Protection of the City of Belgrade, civil society, international organisations, independent institutions and children. The online questionnaire was filled in by 432 children aged 12 to 18 years from urban and rural parts of Serbia and from over 20 cities and municipalities.
The research shows that children and youth are highly aware of the importance of environmental protection, the negative effects of environmental pollution and the establishment of a sustainable society. However, one of the main challenges is a high level of environmental pollution in many places where children and young people live, with the most common sources of pollution being inadequate waste management, air pollution, water pollution, food pollution and biodiversity destruction. The causes of these problems lie in the underdeveloped legislative and strategic framework and the inefficient implementation of the existing regulations and policies.
The research shows that children and youth are usually not involved in the processes of making and improving local policies and do not know enough about the state’s obligations and the content of policies related to sustainable development, climate change, nature protection, protection of plant and animal species, sustainable nutrition, sustainable production and consumption, circular economy, waste management, energy efficiency and eco-friendly and green cities. Only 8.7% of respondents stated that they participated in local policy making in the place of their residence.
Based on the research findings, the Centre has created numerous recommendations for the improvement of the rights of the child to a healthy environment. Some of the main recommendations refer to analyising the policies and legislation of the Republic of Serbia concerning the realisation of the rights of the child to a healthy environment, and establishing the level of compliance of the Republic of Serbia’s legislation and policies with international standards. It is also important to improve the legislative and strategic framework to ensure the realisation of the rights of the child to a healthy environment, improve the monitoring system and ensure efficient implementation of regulations and enhance the capacity of all professionals at the national and local level, and raise the level of knowledge of children and youth about their rights to a healthy environment, relevant strategic policies and ways of participation in local policy making and advocacy.
“I would adopt a law on banning air pollution and supplement it with new measures, such as using appropriate sources of heating, banning cars with outdated systems (diesel, etc.), limiting the number of cars in traffic, introducing free city bikes, ordinary and electric ones, applying the concept of roof afforestation and roof gardens, green corridors between traffic lanes, etc.” (a 17-year-old boy)
|The right of the child to a healthy environment is guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and other international instruments. The realisation of the right of the child to a healthy environment is the basis for the full realisation of many other child’s rights and at the same time the states’ obligation to take measures to prevent environmental pollution.|
The research was conducted as part of the project “Children’s Rights in Policies and Practice” implemented by the Child Rights Centre in cooperation with Save the Children International, and funded by the Government of Sweden.
Download the research here.
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