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Environment and climate change

Global action

© UNICEF/Zambi/Nesbitt
Delegates from the Zambian Children's Climate Conference participate in a carnival march organized by Barefeet to mark the start of the Children's Art Festival

UNICEF advocates for the full recognition and inclusion of children’s environmental needs in the global policy discourse on environmental sustainability

Children’s future is at stake and their voice should be heard
Children and youth have the most at stake in the international environmental and climate discourse; yet their needs, participation, voice and leadership are often not included in global decision-making. Global, national and local communities must include children to address climate change issues.

Strengthening investment in education on environmental issues will empower children to be stakeholders and agents of change. The resourcefulness and imagination of young people is enhanced by their ability to bring fresh ethical and practical concerns to bear in creating the concrete solutions needed to protect environmental sustainability.

UNICEF works with global partners to ensure that children and youth input are prioritized in shaping international policies on environmental sustainability and climate change. UNICEF works to realize an even stronger inclusion of children and youth on environmental discourse and action at the global level. UNICEF affirms the vital role of youth in creating environmental and climate solutions that can be transformed into concrete opportunities and action.

Efforts to combat climate change must include children’s needs
While much work is being done to address climate change at the global level, few, if any, of those initiatives look at the specific needs of children in this context.

Many current climate assessments do not adequately take into account the children who are most affected by climate change impacts. The needs of children must be included and child-centered efforts should also be well-monitored to ensure effective results.

Given the increase in frequency and magnitude of climate-related disasters and extreme events, it is essential to continue to integrate climate change in national development and policy and to strengthen disaster risk reduction programs and actions. Climate change will add to the complexity of emergency situations, and will exacerbate existing conflicts or cause new conflicts to arise. Therefore, climate change impacts must be taken into account when providing humanitarian assistance.

Future generations will have to live with a changing and more extreme climate. Strengthening children and their families’ resilience and ability to cope with shocks will help them become equipped to deal with the challenges of climate change.

Children should benefit from “green” finance 
Taking the needs of children into account in investments on climate change adaptation and in sustainable energy will benefit society: reduced child mortality, better early child development, improved maternal health, and better education for children. UNICEF collaborates with public and private partners to develop innovative approaches and partnerships for children as beneficiaries of green finance

Many of the most disadvantaged children do not have access to energy at all, let alone sustainable energy. Investments in innovative sustainable energy solutions for children can result in their improved wellbeing and future: electricity at home, health clinics and schools, clean air in homes, street lighting and transportation.

UNICEF also works to mobilize increased interest from governments and the private sector to strengthen their environmental practices to improve the lives of children on the frontlines of climate change and environmental degradation.



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