1 billion children at extreme risk from climate change: UNICEF
A new report from UNICEF, released yesterday, concludes that one billion of the world's most vulnerable children are at risk due to climate change impacts.
With the release of new report, UNICEF shares what is necessary to build climate resilience and protect the most vulnerable.
UNICEF Executive Director Catherine Russell, in the report, said, "Today's landmark Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report removes whatever shred of doubt remained: The climate crisis is not a future threat. It is here, it is accelerating, and it will continue to affect the world in increasingly devastating ways.
"Already, the climate crisis has exposed nearly every child, on every continent, to greater risk of more frequent, intense, and destructive climate hazards, from heatwaves and droughts to cyclones and flooding, from air pollution to vector-borne diseases.
"But for some children, the climate crisis is more than a heightened risk. It is a life-threatening reality," the report said.
"UNICEF's recently released Children's Climate Risk Index -- the first comprehensive analysis of climate and environmental risk from a child's perspective -- shows that one billion children live in extremely high-risk countries where they are exposed to the most severe hazards, shocks, and stressors. The impact on these children, their families, and their futures -- and therefore, their societies -- is enormous.
"Today, one billion of the world's most vulnerable children are at risk. Tomorrow, if the world fails to act, it will be all children," it added.
"The evidence is irrefutable -- the climate crisis is a children's crisis. And yet, children are consistently overlooked in climate crisis response planning. Investing in the needs of children most impacted by climate change is not a priority. In many cases it is not even on the agenda.
"The world cannot continue to overlook children as it grapples with the existential threat of climate change and environmental degradation. It is time to put our children at the center of climate action," the report said.
"First and always, governments need to deliver on ambitious emissions reductions. This remains the only long-term solution, as climate adaptation has limits. But we need to take action -- right now -- to help the most vulnerable children, living in countries with the lowest per-capita emissions, adapt to the impacts of climate change, so they can survive and thrive in a rapidly changing world."
UNICEF called on every country to commit to ensuring child-centered adaptation.
"To be effective, child-centered adaptation plans and resilience measures need to be multi-sectoral, covering the critical sectors that support children's survival and wellbeing: water and sanitation; health, nutrition and education; social policy and child protection. They also need to focus resources and attention on reaching the most marginalized and vulnerable children from the poorest communities. Just as important, they must be developed and implemented with the engagement and participation of young people -- ensuring their voices are heard and their needs are reflected in decisions. Lastly, they must be appropriately and urgently funded and resourced," the report said.
"Young people have already waited too long for leaders to take the deep, drastic actions needed to limit the climate crisis. Let's not keep them waiting for us to take the smart, strategic actions that will help them survive it," it said.