Investment Case for Child-Centred Climate Actions in the Context of COVID-19

in East Asia and the Pacific

Children standing near mangroves in an area of Tebunginako village, heavily affected by sea level rise and coastal erosion. Abaiang Atoll, Kiribati.


The dual challenges of the climate crisis and COVID-19 pandemic compound on each other and are disproportionately impacting children in East Asia and Pacific. This calls for ambitious climate actions that help advance climate justice for current and future generations of children and support a green and inclusive recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As stated by the UN Secretary-General António Guterres, the pandemic recovery is “a profound opportunity” to steer the world on “a path that tackles climate change, protects the environment, reverses biodiversity loss and ensures the long-term health and security of humankind”. Unless inclusive climate-smart solutions are prioritized in the recovery phase, there is a high risk of emissions rebounding and governments locking themselves in to a carbon-intense future, leaping from the COVID-19 frying pan into the climate fire. 

This working paper provides an economic analysis of climate and COVID-19 recovery policy measures in East Asia and the Pacific region and makes an investment case for accelerating ambitious and inclusive climate actions through national climate policies and COVID-19 recovery measures in East Asia and the Pacific and beyond.  

It shows that an annual investment of almost USD$100bn by 2030 to implement a portfolio of 14 child-centred climate policy measures across seven selected countries could have significant socio-economic benefits for most vulnerable children and communities: 

  • Generate an estimated 2 million youth jobs,  

  • Lift 2.5 million children out of poverty,  

  • Avoid over 100,000 premature deaths of children,  

  • 1.4 million fewer children facing limited studying hours due to improved access to energy,  

  • 4.4 million reduced children with malnutrition due to investment in climate-smart agriculture, 

  • and over 100,000 fewer children affected by flooding due to improved flood defences. 

The working paper contributes to increasing policy-relevant data and information on the nexus between climate policies, COVID-19 recovery measures and children for use by policy makers and development partners in evaluating policy options and investment decisions. There is a strong imperative for investing in child-centred climate solutions given their overall benefits for children, climate and the economy. Moving forward, investments in child-centred climate solutions could play an important role in addressing the climate crisis and negative impacts of the pandemic while contributing to the realisation of children’s fundamental rights in the region. 

Investment Case for Child-Centred Climate Actions report cover
UNICEF East Asia & Pacific, Vivid Economics
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