Will somebody ask us?
As the world faces a climate crisis, children need their voices heard
A nursery rhyme released by UNICEF East Asia & Pacific for the children of the region is asking adults: will somebody ask us how to fight the climate crisis?
Nursery rhymes have endured for centuries. These simple songs act as a message in a bottle to future generations, carrying tales of revolutions, wars, and pandemics. Handed down from one generation to the next, they exist to impart wisdom and knowledge.
Unfortunately, today’s generation of adults are handing down something far more harmful to children: climate change. And children have no say in the matter.
They are inheriting the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced without being given a chance to sit at the table and have their opinions and ideas listened to. That is why today the children of East Asia & Pacific are asking: will you listen to us?
Children are the least responsible for climate change, yet they are most vulnerable to its impacts. The climate crisis affects every child and their rights, with consequences that are likely to last for generations. East Asia and the Pacific is one of the top regions most vulnerable to climate shocks, and children already vulnerable to climate change suffered even further setbacks due to COVID-19.
Addressing the climate crisis isn’t simply about survival: climate change is already affecting children and their environment today. Through rising temperatures, sea levels, extreme weather events, air pollution, food security and disease vectors, the climate crisis shapes the way children learn, play, eat, stay healthy, and remain safe. It affects every aspect of young people’s lives.
Every child deserves a fair chance to live their life to the fullest. That’s why, in order to tip the balance back in their favour, children and young people need to be given a voice and a chance for meaningful participation. They need a platform to call for change and protect their fundamental rights, to have a say in how policies are shaped and how the world plans to enact them.
After all, they will be the ones footing the bill with serious action today.
What can be done?
- Put children at the centre of climate change strategies and response plans.
- Protect children from the impact of climate change and environmental degradation, such as by making schools, health centres, water and sanitation facilities, and other services critical to children’s well-being resistant to climate and environmental shocks.
- Recognize children as agents of change: Children’s participation in issues that affect them is part of their fundamental rights.
- Reduce emissions and pollution: Take decisive action to cut greenhouse gas emissions to slow, and ultimately stop, the advance of climate change, to tackle the climate crisis before it’s too late.
In 2021, children and young people from the region engaged in conversations with Geo, #MyClimateFuture bot to learn about their climate rights and how they can take action. One thing was clear: children are the agents of change, and they are keen to help address the climate crisis and be part of the solution for a more sustainable and safer future.