Children in East Asia and the Pacific face the greatest exposure to multiple climate disasters
Children in the region face six times more climate related shocks compared to their grandparents eroding their coping capacity and exacerbating inequality
BANGKOK, 24 May 2023 – More than any other region, children in the East Asia and Pacific region are having to survive multiple, often overlapping climate and environmental hazards and shocks, according to the latest UNICEF regional report ‘Over the Tipping Point’. The report highlights the urgent need to invest in climate-smart social services and policies to protect children.
Children born in the region today are experiencing a six-fold increase in climate related disasters compared to their grandparents. Over the last 50 years, the region has witnessed 11 times increase in floods; 4 times increase in storms; 2.4 times increase in droughts and 5 times increase in landslides.
With temperatures and sea levels rising and extreme weather such as typhoons, severe floods, landslides and droughts increasing, millions of children are at risk. Many children and their families face displacement and struggle to survive, with limited or no access to healthcare, education, and water and sanitation services.
“The situation for children in the East Asia and Pacific region is alarming. The climate crisis is risking their lives, causing them to miss out on their childhood and their right to survive and thrive. We need urgent and collective action by governments, businesses and donors to address some of the key bottlenecks in disaster risk management and adopt climate-smart services so that children can grow up in a safe and healthy environment,” said Debora Comini, Regional Director, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific.
According to the latest analysis, which is based on the Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI), in the East Asia and Pacific region over 210 million children are highly exposed to cyclones; 140 million children are highly exposed to water scarcity; 120 million children are highly exposed to coastal flooding; and 460 million children to air pollution.
The Children’s Climate Risk Index ranks Cambodia 46th out of 163 countries, which is in the top third of countries facing high risks associated with climate change. The report found that Cambodian children are highly exposed to water scarcity, riverine flooding and vector-borne diseases.
Moreover, many children are exposed to more than one type of climate and environmental shock, stress or hazard:
- 443 million children face 3 or more types of climate shocks, 89 per cent vs. 73 per cent globally
- 325 million children face 4 or more types of climate shocks, 65 per cent vs. 37 per cent globally
- 204 million children face 5 or more types of climate shocks, 41 per cent vs. 14 per cent globally
- 63 million children face 6 or more types of climate shocks, 12 per cent vs. 3 per cent globally
When these overlapping shocks are compounded by other types of crises such as food insecurity, malnutrition, and the spread of infectious diseases, it becomes especially hard for the most vulnerable children, especially from poor and marginalized communities and those with disabilities, to cope and recover. Ultimately, these effects exacerbate inequalities that children already face, pushing the poorest further into poverty.
UNICEF is calling for urgent action from governments, businesses and donors, to invest in building climate-smart social services including education, healthcare and water supply and sanitation, early warning systems, and climate-responsive social protection such as cash transfers.
“The climate change crisis is a child rights crisis as it is disproportionately impacting the wellbeing of children. From heatwaves and floods to air and river pollution, the situation is expected to worsen unless urgent and continuous action is jointly taken by government, partners, private sector, and communities to mitigate climate change,” said Dr Will Parks, UNICEF Cambodia Representative. “UNICEF is closely collaborating with the Royal Government of Cambodia and other partners to enhance the climate resilience of vulnerable communities and empower young people to take positive action for climate change prevention.”
UNICEF Cambodia supports national and local authorities to advance shock-responsive essential services for children and young people, including by carrying out climate-focused local life skills education (LLSE) in schools, building climate-resilient water and sanitation facilities with renewable energy, and ensuring that children are protected from harmful health impacts caused by natural disasters.
Climate change and environmental challenges including pollution and deforestation are threatening the sustainable development and economic growth of East Asia and the Pacific region with lifelong and irreversible impacts on the lives and livelihoods of children and young people.
Notes to editors:
The report, Over the tipping point | UNICEF East Asia and Pacific can be downloaded here.
UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF East Asia & Pacific and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/eap
For more information, please contact:
Shima Islam, Acting Regional Chief of Communication, UNICEF East Asia and Pacific, Tel: +66 (0)23569407 Email: email@example.com
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.