|Members of the international coalition of youth organizations speak during a press conference at the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, urging the world’s leaders to take stronger action in the fight against climate change.|
By Suzanna Dayne
BALI, Indonesia, 12 December 2007 – On the sidelines of the United Nations Climate Change Conference now under way in Bali, Indonesia, UNICEF has held a series of events to highlight the effects of global warming on children and to ensure that young people are involved in debate on this issue.
To that end, UNICEF supported the launch of a Global Youth Climate Movement by a coalition of more than 30 youth organizations.
The climate change meeting has attracted participants from more than 180 countries – including environmental experts, activists and world leaders – in an effort to reach agreement on reducing greenhouse gas emissions and slowing down global warming.
‘Families are feeling the effects’
“Coastal erosion is a serious problem in my country,” said Sister Claire Anterea, a member of the Climate Change Action Group in the Pacific island nation of Kiribati, adding that storms and high seas are destroying her homeland.
|UNICEF Regional Director Anupama Rao Singh speaks during a meeting about children and climate change during the UN Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia.|
“Our water supply is under threat,” she explained. “A lot of salt is seeping into our wells, and families are feeling the effects.”
“We are acting on our campuses, our states, our countries,” said a US delegate, Whit Jones. “But we see now that we cannot just build movements within our own countries. We must reach across borders to unite, as world leaders have refused to act with the urgency that we need.”
Children are the most vulnerable
At a panel discussion, international delegates discussed the impact of climate change on children, particularly those living in less developed countries.
“Children are more likely to succumb to natural disasters,” said Uganda’s Environment Minister, Maria Mutagamba. “Children are born into this climate change problem – trees being cut, rubbish being burned. These are serious issues affecting a child’s health and future.”
Participants noted that the specific nature of the relationship between climate change and children’s health is now emerging.
“Every year, more than 3 million children die as a result of diseases linked to the environment, such as diarrhoeal disease, respiratory infection and malaria,” said UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific Anupama Rao Singh.
Acting for future generations
Protecting the environment and providing for the health and development of children go hand in hand, Ms. Singh and other conference participants said. They stressed that actions taken to enhance environmental quality also help to meet the basic needs of children.
“This is the moral challenge of our generation, said UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. “Not only are the eyes of the world upon us. More important, succeeding generations depend on us. We cannot rob our children of their future.”
United Nations Climate Change Conference website
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