Climate Change & Resilience

Climate change financing must be child-sensitive as children are inherently more vulnerable to the impacts

Climate change
UNICEF

The challenge

Kyrgyzstan is one of the most climate vulnerable countries in the region. The high dependence on glacial melt water for agriculture and energy, the importance of natural resources for rural livelihoods, and the energy requirements for pumping water exposes children throughout the country to hazards to health, education, nutrition, protection and lifetime opportunities, all of which are exacerbated by climate change. There are 2 million children in Kyrgyzstan.

The dangers of climate change are more pronounced for children than for adults.

Climate change threats include: higher susceptibility to vector borne diseases, undernutrition and diarrhoea; respiratory infections caused by air pollution; physical danger associated with flooding and landslides and a higher risk of abuse, exploitation, trafficking, radicalisation and child labour as climate related poverty increases. Lifelong impacts of these threats on children include reduced physical and cognitive development and long-term mental and physical health complications, poorer grades and, subsequently, a lower lifetime earning potential.

a boy on the background of mountains
UNICEF/Gonzalo Bell
A boy stands next to his house in a village, Kyrgyzstan. Agricultural productivity will be affected by climate change, impacting the rural poor most strongly. Children from rural, agriculture-orientated communities are most at risk.

Diminishing incomes and hardship in rural areas where 66% of the country reside is already leading to migration, separation of families and worsening conditions for children in peri-urban settlements.

These trends can be expected to worsen under climate change, placing more children at risk of deprivation, hardship and reduced access to services. Adverse economic impacts of climate change will continue to undermine already failing services for children. Climate change is likely to worsen the situation for children due to both a reduction in the national budget for investments in children’s services, while increasing numbers of children requiring government assistance.

Public services such as schools, health centers and social support services essential to attaining children’s rights and wellbeing are already underfunded, especially in rural areas and peri-urban settlements. The situation is likely to get worse as water and energy resources become scarce and competition for allocation of Government funding increases.

The solution

While many Climate change, environment and energy (CEE) projects include activities that undoubtedly improve the lives of children, very little of those investments have been designed to specifically target children. However, as children make up 36% of the population, CEE investments should increasingly include child-sensitive indicators for planning, monitoring and reporting.

Boy with dog on the background of mountains
UNICEF
In ten years’ time, today’s children will grow up and become engineers, teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, bankers, public servants and policy makers. We need to invest more in children!

For the next generation to become more climate-resilient and environmentally-friendly, we need to invest in children now!

Since independence in 1991, investments to address climate change and environmental issues has seen over US$ 200 million of funding from Government, development banks, multilateral and bilateral sources. Investments were programmed predominantly into the agriculture, water management and natural resource management sectors.

While these most vulnerable sectors have been well targeted, children, the group most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change generally has not. To address this oversight and to ensure that children are engaged as active participants in the fight against climate change, their voices heard and their needs met, UNICEF has a very important role to play in current and future climate change and environment programming.

UNICEF works on evidence generation on the impacts of climate change on children due to rural-to-urban migration and the threat of a worsening energy, water, economic situation.

UNICEF uses evidence to support government and non-governmental actors in development of child sensitive CEE policy, planning and financing, and strengthening of CEE inclusion in child related policies.

Resources

These resources represent just a small selection of materials on climate change and disaster risk reduction produced by UNICEF and its partners in Kyrgyzstan. The list is regularly updated to include the latest information.

Climate Landscape Analysis for Children

Danger in the Air

Magic Journey cartoon series on climate change