Children in Indonesia at ‘high risk’ of the impacts of the climate crisis - UNICEF

For the first time, UNICEF ranks countries based on children’s exposure and vulnerability to climate and environmental shocks, with Indonesian children among the world’s most vulnerable.

27 August 2021
Children looking out at a mosque
Putra (left), 11, and Nugi, 10, look out at the Waladuna Mosque in the Muara Baru neighbourhood of North Jakarta, Indonesia, on 29 September 2020. The mosque has been partially submerged in seawater since 2000 as the ground beneath it sank and the waters of the Java Sea continued to rise due to climate change.

NEW YORK/Jakarta, 27 August 2021 – Young people living in Indonesia are among those at high risk of the impacts of climate change, threatening their health, education, and protection, according to a global UNICEF report.

The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index’ is the first comprehensive global analysis of climate risk from a child’s perspective. It ranks countries based on children’s exposure to climate and environmental shocks, such as cyclones and heatwaves, as well as their vulnerability to those shocks, based on their access to essential services.

Launched in collaboration with Fridays for Future, a youth-led global climate strike movement, the report finds approximately 1 billion children – nearly half the world's 2.2 billion children – live in one of the 33 countries classified as “extremely high-risk”. The findings reflect the number of children impacted today, and the figures are likely to worsen as the impact of climate change accelerates.

Indonesia is among the high-risk countries, with a ranking of 46. The report finds that Indonesian children are highly exposed to vector borne diseases, air pollution, and coastal floods, but also that investments in social services, particularly health and nutrition, education, and social protection and financial inclusion, can make a significant difference in our ability to safeguard their futures from the impact of climate change.

“The climate crisis is a child’s rights crisis,” said UNICEF Representative Debora Comini. “Indonesia is among the top 50 countries in the world where children are most at risk from climate change and environmental degradation. But if we act now, we can prevent the situation from becoming worse.”

The Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI) in the report reveals that globally:

  • 240 million children are highly exposed to coastal flooding;
  • 330 million children are highly exposed to riverine flooding;
  • 400 million children are highly exposed to cyclones;
  • 600 million children are highly exposed to vector borne diseases;
  • 815 million children are highly exposed to lead pollution;
  • 820 million children are highly exposed to heatwaves;
  • 920 million children are highly exposed to water scarcity;
  • 1 billion children are are highly exposed to exceedingly high levels of air pollution.1

An estimated 850 million children – 1 in 3 worldwide – live in areas where at least four of these climate and environmental shocks overlap. As many as 330 million children – 1 in 7 worldwide – live in areas affected by at least five major shocks. In addition, the dual challenges of climate change and COVID-19 compound on each other, and children bear a disproportionate share of the impact of both climate change and COVID-19.

The report also reveals a disconnect between where greenhouse gas emissions are generated, and where children are enduring the most significant climate-driven impacts. The 33 extremely high-risk countries collectively emit just 9 per cent of global CO2 emissions. Conversely, the 10 highest emitting countries collectively account for nearly 70 per cent of global emissions. Only one of these countries is ranked as ‘extremely high-risk’ in the index. East Asia and the Pacific countries are also responsible for an increasingly large share of global CO2 emissions with China (30.30%), Japan (3.25%), Republic of Korea (1.85%) and Indonesia (1.71%) ranked among the top 20 biggest emitters of CO2 globally.2

Without the urgent action required to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, children will continue to suffer the most. Compared to adults, children require more food and water per unit of their body weight, are less able to survive extreme weather events, and are more susceptible to toxic chemicals, temperature changes and diseases, among other factors.

UNICEF is calling on governments, businesses and relevant actors to:

  1. Increase investment in climate adaptation and resilience in key services for children. To protect children, communities and the most vulnerable from the worst impacts of the already changing climate, critical services must be adapted, including water, sanitation and hygiene systems, health and education services.
  2. Reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To avert the worst impacts of the climate crisis, comprehensive and urgent action is required. Countries must cut their emissions by at least 45% (compared to 2010 levels) by 2030 to keep warming to no more than 1.5 degrees Celsius.
  3. Provide children with climate education and greens skills, critical for their adaptation to and preparation for the effects of climate change. Children and young people will face the full devastating consequences of the climate crisis and water insecurity, yet they are the least responsible. We have a duty to all young people and future generations.
  4. Include young people in all national, regional and international climate negotiations and decisions, including at COP26. Children and young people must be included in all climate-related decision making. 
  5. Ensure the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is green, low-carbon and inclusive, so that the capacity of future generations to address and respond to the climate crisis is not compromised.




Notes to Editors:

The CCRI was developed in collaboration with several partners including the Data for Children Collaborative.

In order to make the report more accessible to global youth, UNICEF also collaborated with Climate Cardinals, an international youth led non-profit which translates climate change research and information so that they can reach as many young people and leaders as possible.

Read the report



1 Annual mean exposure >35µg/m3

2 Source: See Methodology for CCRI data. CO2 emissions data downloaded from World Bank WDI data catalogue, original source: Carbon Dioxide Information Analysis Center, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee, United States.

Media contacts

Kinanti Pinta Karana
Communications Specialist
UNICEF Indonesia
Tel: +62 8158805842


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