In Geneva, young people launch 'Children’s Charter' for staying safe in disasters
By Christopher Tidey
GENEVA, Switzerland, 23 May 2011 – Children make up more than half the population in countries predicted to be most affected by climate change and are facing increasing impacts from tumultuous events. It is estimated that as many as 175 million children a year will soon be affected by disasters.
To help make children’s voices heard, three young adults told world leaders gathered in Geneva what needs to be done to help children stay safe during disasters.
André Brent Bryle M. Soon and Tricia Mae T. Plenos, both 14 from the Philippines, and Johnson Ngugi Njoki, 17, from Kenya, were nominated to participate at the recent UN Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction by their local communities because of their dedication to disaster risk reduction at home.
Interests of children
In an auditorium packed with government and community leaders from around the world, the three young people seized the opportunity to put the interests of children at the forefront of global discussion on disaster risk reduction.
After telling the audience of their experiences working towards disaster risk reduction in their own countries, André, Tricia and Johnson launched a new five-point Children’s Charter which they asked participants of the Global Platform to sign and support.
The Charter states, among others, that child protection must be a priority before, during and after a disaster; community infrastructure be safe, and relief and reconstruction help reduce future risk; and disaster risk reduction reach the most vulnerable.
The Charter is based on feedback from more than 600 children in 21 countries who identified education, child protection and access to basic information as the main needs to reduce the devastating impact of disasters and climate change upon their families and communities.
Loud and clear message
UNICEF, Plan International, World Vision, Save the Children and The Institute of Development Studies (working together as ‘Children in a Changing Climate’), along with the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, say it is essential to include the unique perspectives of children and young people in reducing disaster risk and adapting to climate change.
André, Tricia and Johnson have now returned home, but their efforts at the Global Platform have ensured that the priorities of children affected by disasters around the world have been heard loud and clear.