During the 90-degree days last weekend, most of the eleven-year-olds were playing outside, splashing in the pool and munching on popsicles. But Madhvi Chittoor spent last Saturday hosting a climate rights seminar and international forum on Zoom, with Colorado Rep. Brianna Titone as guest of honor.
Madhvi is a UN Child Advisor for General Comment 26, an official interpretation of children’s rights relating to the environment and climate change. She applied for the team after scientists impressed by her global plastics policy campaign encouraged her to apply; she was informed in February that she had been chosen from a pool of 300 applicants. The youngest councilor, she is also the only one from the United States.
“It’s a big surprise, and I have a very big responsibility to represent all of the regions of North and Central America,” she said.
Madhvi’s passion for the environment was sparked by a CNN documentary titled plastic island that she saw when she was five years old. “I was inspired by this that I have to do something,” she recalls. In 2016, she wrote her first book, Is my food plastic?, and in 2017 she started her own nonprofit, Madhvi4EcoEthics, to focus on plastics and other pollutants. During the last legislative session, she testified in support of HB21-1162, which will ban food and retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags to customers beginning in 2024 (stores independent of the Colorado that have less than four locations are exempt). She also backed HB22-1345, designed to increase protections against “eternal chemicals” such as perfluoroalkyls and polyfluoroalkyls; it became law on June 3.
Growing up in Arvada, Madhvi recognized the ramifications of climate change in that state. “I’ve seen many, many different changes from when I was six or five until I’m now eleven,” she says. “Wildfires – we have received many wildfire warnings. Housing – every empty space is turning into housing communities. Water shortage – many droughts are happening here.”
She decided to hold her June 18 seminar to get the views of other kids, announcing the event on Twitter and her website. More than 100 children have signed up, according to her mother, Lalitha Chittoor.
She took their comments with her on June 22, when the thirteen child advisers met with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child to begin the first steps in creating General Comment 26 for the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. to the rights of the child. This general commentary on the UNCRC will focus on how children are affected by certain issues related to the environment and climate change, and discuss what countries need to do to uphold these rights. Previous general comments on the treaty have addressed issues such as the rights of children in the justice system, the right of the child to be protected from all forms of violence, and the rights of children with disabilities.
Metro Denver has a knack for encouraging smart kids: Time The 2020 Kid of the Year and the magazine’s first-ever Kid of the Year, Gitanjali Rao, lives in Lone Tree. She was honored at the age of fifteen, after hearing about Flint’s crisis and inventing a device to help detect contaminated water.
While Madhvi is also enjoying a rapid start as an activist, her interests go beyond the environment. For starters, she holds the Guinness World Record for being the youngest professional music producer: she released her album, I am… Princess Geniein 2019.
But she will continue her environmental work this summer, meeting with Michael S. Regan, head of the Environmental Protection Agency, in July to discuss water shortages and drinking water issues.
UNCRC’s General Comment 26 will be officially launched in 2023… when Madhvi turns 12.