Climate change set to exacerbate child vulnerability in South Africa
New study calls for policy makers to focus on children in addressing climate change.
19 November, Pretoria – Climate change will exacerbate the existing vulnerabilities of children in South Africa, unless mitigation and adaptation strategies are child-sensitive and timeously implemented.
‘Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on Children in South Africa’ study made public today highlights the likely impact of climate change on children’s health, education, nutrition, safety and access to adequate housing and sanitation in South Africa – both directly and indirectly.
The study presents a body of evidence that South Africa’s climate is already changing, with increases in average annual temperatures and slight decreases in rainfall in recent decades. In future all regions of the country are projected to be warmer, particularly inland. According to scientific models rainfall variability countrywide will increase, with consequences for the incidence of flooding and drought.
Prioritise child wellbeing
“In the context of existing poverty and HIV and AIDS, climate change is likely to deepen the vulnerability of children in South Africa,” said Aida Girma, UNICEF Representative. “Children are more susceptible than adults to the adverse effects of environmental degradation because of their physical, cognitive and physiological immaturity.”
Child participation key to designing solutions
Effective participation by children on climate change issues can feed into, and strengthen policy and national response. Currently, most climate change-related policies do not adequately examine the specific impact of changing climatic conditions on children.
There is a need to ensure that issues of climate change are communicated effectively to children. Though aspects of climate change already cut across the curriculum, more is still needed to ensure successful communication and take-up among children.
“Prioritising child wellbeing in climate change related plans and programmes is our obligation as a society, under the Convention on the Rights of the Child,” said Girma. “UNICEF is committed to working with partners to ensure that child-related risks associated with climate change, as well as wider development pressures, are addressed.”
Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on Children in South Africa
Exploring the Impact of Climate Change on Children in South Africa: Summary of Findings
Change Through the Eyes of a Child: South African children speak about climate change
VIDEO: Young people have their say on climate change
Young people have their say on climate change
Children have the right to be heard on climate change and to be involved in the discussions and planning of mitigation and adaptation strategies, policies and plans. Hear the voices of a group of young people from KwaZulu-Natal about climate change and COP 17.