The window to prevent catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing as the crisis is set to worsen unless urgent action is taken now, Save the Children warned.
Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International:
“The climate crisis is the largest threat to children and the realisation of their rights across borders and generations. The COVID-19 outbreak has already pushed millions of children and families into poverty and increased hunger and malnutrition. But flooding, hurricanes and droughts are also causing children to be malnourished.”
“Children have contributed the least to the crisis we are facing, but will pay the highest price. We have seen the power of children, leading the way on climate change through a truly global movement. But much more must be done – children need to be listened to and governments take action on what children tell them. Governments need to set up child-friendly mechanisms and platforms on- and off-line to include children’s recommendations in climate policies, including the most vulnerable children.”
As U.S. President Joe Biden holds a Leaders summit on climate change starting on Earth Day (22 April), Save the Children urged that children, including the most marginalised and deprived who suffer first and worst, must be heard alongside world leaders who are joining the summit.
While all children are impacted by climate change, those living in poverty, conflict or hunger, or in disaster prone areas, will suffer most as they often are already deprived of their basic needs. Children in countries deemed at a “lower-risk” are facing threats as well, for example from forest fires, flooding, droughts and other erratic weather events.
Analysis by Save the Children also shows that:
Climate change impacts are worsening the already dire situation in Yemen, where conflict has created severe food shortages, leaving millions of children at risk of hunger;
Children in Bangladesh are highly exposed to flooding, cyclones, and sea levels rise;
Malaria and dengue fever already plague children in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Increasing extreme weather events can lead to new health risks while the health system is already limited.
If drastic action is not taken, the impact of the climate crisis will likely hit millions more children in decades to come, the organisation warned. Increasing climate shocks often make it a struggle for families to recover between each shock, especially in countries that lack social safety nets, pushing them further into poverty or forcing them to flee their homes.
Ahead of the Climate Summit on Earth Day, Save the Children urges all governments to take immediate and drastic action to address climate injustice head on, and avoid further catastrophic impacts on children and their families. This includes:
Acknowledging that the climate crisis is a child rights crisis that affects children first and worst.
Increase climate finance, particularly for adaptation, with a specific focus on children in poorer countries, given as grants.
Ensure a focus on children at COP26 in Glasgow later this year and include children from the most marginalised communities at the upcoming Youth Summit in Milan.
Scale up adaptive and shock-responsive social protection systems – such as grants for pregnant mothers and children - to address the increasing impacts of climate change on children and their families. More countries need to work towards their commitment in the Convention on the Rights of the Child to ensure every child is protected from poverty, for example by providing universal child benefits to improve children’s well-being and build resilience.
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