Bangladeshi children call on national leaders to address climate change as a child rights issue
UNICEF stands with children in Bangladesh as they appeal for intergenerational solidarity and urgent action
DHAKA, 27 October 2021 – Ahead of the COP26 Climate Change Conference – which begins in Glasgow, UK, on 31 October – Bangladeshi children called on national leaders to address climate change as a child rights issue. The children also asked decision makers to commit to involving children more in finding solutions to the climate crisis, highlighting the need for urgent action.
The children’s calls are captured in the Bangladeshi Children’s Climate Declaration that a group of children handed over to the Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Mr. Shahab Uddin, the Speaker of the Bangladesh National Parliament Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury and other leaders in a ceremony in the Bangladesh National Parliament today.
The children’s message to the Government’s official COP26 delegation was clear: “Bring our appeal with you when you travel to Glasgow. Climate change is a child rights issue.”
The declaration was prepared in November 2020 at the first-ever Children’s Climate Summit by engaging over one million Bangladeshi children involved with the UNICEF-supported Generation Parliament initiative by Bangladesh Debate Federation (BDF). The Bangladeshi Children’s Climate Declaration calls on the Government to: protect children against the impacts of climate change; reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions; increase investments in education, training and a green economy; and consult children on policies and decisions that impact their future.
“Climate change is threatening our survival, well-being and future. We are asking you to stand up for the children of this country and do more to fight climate change,” said 13-year-old Kaba Kaushin Arisha, who handed over the declaration on behalf of the children who participated in the 2020 Summit. “Unless we act now and we act together, we will reach a point of no return. This is our call to you, and to COP26.”
“I thank the over one million children who united behind this Declaration, and UNICEF for bringing us – children and decision makers – together. It is only by listening to our children that we can shape a better future for all,” said Dr. Shirin Sharmin Chaudhury, Speaker of the Bangladesh National Parliament, who was the Chief Guest of the handover event.
“The Government of Bangladesh is committed to upholding the rights of children and addressing climate change as a child rights issue. We will continue working – with and for children - for a better, safer, greener Bangladesh,” said Mr. Shahab Uddin, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, who is part of the official Bangladesh delegation to COP26.
Although Bangladesh is among the lowest per-capita greenhouse gas emitting countries in the world (bottom 20 per cent), it is one of the countries that is most affected by climate change. UNICEF’s first-ever Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI 2021) found that children in Bangladesh are among the world’s most vulnerable to climate change. The Index ranked Bangladesh as the 15th country globally in terms of climate change risks and impacts on children.
UNICEF estimates that one in three children in Bangladesh, nearly 20 million children, bear the brunt of climate change every day. Children are victims of extreme weather, floods, river erosion, sea level rise, and other environmental shocks driven by climate change. Many end up adrift in city slums, their lives and prospects shattered. Millions of children are trapped in exploitive child labour, child marriage and trafficking.
“Children in Bangladesh are not responsible for the climate crisis, yet they face its most severe impacts, paying the highest price,” said Mr. Sheldon Yett, UNICEF Representative to Bangladesh. “UNICEF stands with children in Bangladesh in their appeal for intergenerational solidarity. The needs of children must be at the centre of the climate change response.”
UNICEF provides children in Bangladesh with regular opportunities to interact meaningfully with national and international decision makers, and is committed to amplifying children’s voices as they speak up for the need to ensure that they inherit a liveable planet.
UNICEF works with the Government to strengthen climate-adapted education, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene services for children, by building climate resilience in communities, and by preparing children for the impacts of climate change.
The event was also attended by members of the Parliamentary Caucus on Child Rights and members of Bangladesh’s delegation to COP26.
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Read the Children’s Climate Declaration here.
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/bangladesh