Climate action is sufficient, said only 4 per cent of young advocates in Latin America and the Caribbean - UNICEF poll

Almost all young respondents believe that governments must urgently implement ambitious mitigation actions to curb climate change and environmental degradation.

29 October 2021
ArgentinianyYouth climate activists.

PANAMA CITY, 29 October 2021 – Ahead of the COP26, barely 4 per cent of young climate advocates in Latin America and the Caribbean consider that their governments are taking adequate climate action, a new UNICEF poll reveals today.

Of the nearly 500 young advocate respondents across the region, almost half of them consider that their governments are not taking any measures, while 43 per cent say they are insufficient.  

“Try harder,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “This is the message climate youth advocates in Latin America and the Caribbean are sending to their governments today. Most of these young people are dissatisfied with the level of action taken to curb climate change, according to the new UNICEF poll. They feel ignored and excluded. They are looking for more space in the decision-making process –but meaningful space, with real talk and real action.” 

Administered through U-Report, a free and confidential mobile empowerment platform from UNICEF, the survey was carried out across 32 countries in Latin American and the Caribbean through mobile phone SMS earlier this year.  

Based on the main poll findings, a new UNICEF report highlights how young climate and environment advocates assess the governmental climate action, their participation in decision-making, as well as their solution proposals: 

  • More than 70 per cent believe that climate and environmental policies and plans in their countries do not sufficiently consider their needs and rights. 
  • About 65 per cent were never consulted in the development of climate and environmental policies and plans in their country and locality. 
  • Only 5 per cent report having participated in the elaboration of their country’s Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), a key instrument to achieve commitments acquired with the Paris Agreement.  
  • Almost 60 per cent are confident that their actions do have an impact.  
  • More than 30 per cent stressed the need to include environmental education as part of the formal education system, to achieve transformational and systemic changes.  

"The first thing is to respond with an environmental education so that children and youth can face the climate crisis informed and with environmental awareness. This way, children and youth can participate in spaces for open dialogue, to communicate our demands and to seek solutions based on dialogue and consensus,” proposed a 16-year-old girl from Honduras. 

“Young climate advocates are tired of hearing more promises, again and again, year after year,” said Jean Gough, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “They are hungry for concrete measures to build a greener, safer, healthier planet, to guarantee a fair future and equal opportunities –and they took the lead. Beyond criticism, they bring forward clear, positive, actionable and scalable proposals. They have the solutions to climate change; in fact, they are the solutions. Taking these young people more seriously is the only way forward –because the others led to the climate crisis we are in today.”

In the region, UNICEF estimates that 169 million children - 9 out of 10 - live in areas where at least two climate and environmental shocks overlap.

Earlier this year, the MERI Foundation and UNICEF signed a regional alliance to make more scientific evidence available to youth across Latin America and the Caribbean and support a new generation of climate activists through environmental education.

UNICEF is calling on all Latin American and the Caribbean governments to establish mechanisms to systematically involve youth advocates in all national, regional and international climate negotiations and decisions, as well as mainstream climate education into the school curriculum for all children.

Read the report here.

Media contacts

Laurent Duvillier
Regional Chief of Communication
UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: + 507 3017393
Tel: + 507 6169 9886
Alfonso Fernández Reca
Regional Communication Specialist
UNICEF Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +507 69412277,


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