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Climate Change Undermines Child Rights: UNICEF

More Investment on Children Can Improve Situation

Dhaka, 22 January 2017 – Climate change and environmental degradation undermine child rights, especially of the most disadvantaged children, which is particularly critical in Bangladesh as one of the most climate vulnerable countries, says a new UNICEF Bangladesh report, ‘Learning to Live in a Changing Climate: the Impact of Climate Change on Children in Bangladesh’.

The report aims to strengthen the generation and use of knowledge in improving programmes and policy advocacy for children affected by climate change. The report reveals the vulnerability of Bangladesh due to flooding, cyclones and river erosion and how climate change is aggravating the situation rapidly. It shows that between 2008 and 2014, around 4.7 million people were displaced while 70 per cent of Dhaka’s slum dwellers are environmental migrants. Moreover, climate change is threatening to reverse Bangladesh’s development gains towards universal access to primary education, health services, safe water, ending child marriage and child labour, and eradicating hunger and malnutrition.

Children are more vulnerable to climate change than adults, the report highlights. Some 85 per cent of disease from climate change affects children, while the risks of water and vector-borne diseases, malnutrition, death and injury during disasters increase among children owing to climate change. Children experience prolonged school closures due to flooding. Families losing livelihoods due to climate change and migrating to urban slums lack basic services and expose children to violence, exploitation and abuse. These children often stop going to school, with boys at risk of child labour and girls of child marriage. Climate change also aggravates inequality and if not addressed, it will harm the most vulnerable children first, hardest, and longest.

The key report findings were presented today at the launch of ‘Policy Review, Institutional Mapping and Action Plan on Climate Change and Children’ - a collaborative project by UNICEF and Bangladesh Centre for Advanced Studies (BCAS).  Professor Shamsul Alam, Member, Senior Secretary, GED, Planning Commission, Government of Bangladesh released the report as the chief guest of the program. Md. Reaz Ahmed, Director General, Department of Disaster Management, Ministry of Disaster Management and Relief; Dr. A. Atiq Rahman, Executive Director, Bangladesh Center for Advanced Studies; Mr. Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative were present at the ceremony.

“The effects of climate change are tangible, disproportionately affecting children. To ensure a good start in life and opportunities for every child to develop their full capacity, UNICEF is committed to contribute more on environmental sustainability and also urges Bangladesh to invest 20 per cent of the social sector budget for children by 2020 for their better life and to attain the Sustainable Development Goals,” said Mr. Edouard Beigbeder, UNICEF Bangladesh Representative. “Our collective action on climate change will contribute to ending the vicious cycle that condemns the most disadvantaged children living at the mercy of disasters beyond their control.”

To help stem growing inequality, the report also recommends UNICEF to prioritize actions to target the most vulnerable children and adolescents in Bangladesh.
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