UNICEF urges media to hear the voices of children on climate change
31 October 2011, Pretoria - As South Africa prepares for the 17th Conference of Parties (COP 17) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change in Durban from 28 November to 9 December 2011, UNICEF is urging media to consult with children on what they believe to be the key issues surrounding climate change, its impact on the children of South Africa, and what role children can play to address climate change.
A new study commissioned by UNICEF in partnership with the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities, to be launched in mid-November 2011, highlights the importance of child participation in designing effective responses to climate change.
The study ‘The Impact of Climate Change on Children in South Africa’ highlights the expected 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. However, in spite of their increased vulnerability, children cannot be viewed simply as victims of climate change. Children need to be – and have a right to be – actively involved in the discussions and planning of mitigation and adaptation strategies, as well as policies and plans by various levels of government.
The study also reveals that there are a number of existing initiatives in South Africa through which children are participating in the climate change agenda. These could be strengthened to create a solid foundation for effective participation by children on climate change issues that 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.
In preparation for the launch of the study in November, shortly before COP 17, UNICEF and partners have been engaging with children from school-based clubs across the country, to better understand their concerns and ideas for addressing climate change.
UNICEF is able to facilitate a limited number of interviews with children from the clubs, as well as experts on the impact of climate change on children, for interested media. An invitation to attend the official launch of the study will be shared with all media in the first week of November.