Latin America and the Caribbean: Less than 4 per cent of climate funding considers the needs of children

04 December 2023
A group of children between 5 and 13 years of age pose smiling in front of the camera in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.
UNICEF/UN0832023/Quintero

Panama City, 4 December 2023.- In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), about 96.8 per cent of all the climate funds are not responding to children’s needs, according to the groundbreaking brief paper released today by CERI, Plan International, Save the Children and UNICEF. These commitments are inadequate and ignore children's unique needs in the face of the climate crisis, including their need for targeted adaptation and protection from loss and damage. 

In a groundbreaking Advocacy Brief released today, the child rights organizations CERI, Plan International, Save the Children and UNICEF bring attention to the critical lack of climate finance for children in the LAC region and call for urgent action. 

Children are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the climate crisis. In the region, 4 in 5 children are at high risks of climate hazards such as water and food scarcity, vector- and water-borne diseases, and physical and psychological trauma linked to disasters and prolonged environmental risks. An additional 10.9 million children face the triple burden of climate hazards, poverty, and conflict.   

"In El Salvador, it is getting too hot to go to school. It makes it harder for a lot of students like me to also concentrate" asserted an adolescent girl from El Salvador. Another girl from the same country added, "The change in temperature impacts our mental health, climate change generates a lot of anxiety." 

The impacts are particularly severe for girls and children facing different forms of discrimination and inequality, such as indigenous and ethnic minority children, displaced or migrant children, and children with disabilities. 

Let's stand together for the children, especially girls, in the face of climate challenges. It's not just about funding; it's about securing their future. We must invest directly where it matters—in their well-being, resilience, and dreams. By doing so, we're not just ensuring a sustainable tomorrow; we're building a future that's fair and enduring for every boy and girl in every corner of our region", said Débora Cóbar, Plan International Regional Executive Director for the Americas. 

Paradoxically, children in Latin America and the Caribbean are the first to be affected by climate change, but the least to benefit from climate funds," stated Garry Conille, UNICEF Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. “It doesn’t make sense that child-responsive climate funds only reach children in six countries of the region. The climate crisis is a child rights crisis, a climate fund that is child blind is doomed to fail.” he added. 

"Children and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean are key agents of change in responding to the current climate crisis. Yet, in 35 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, they do not receive any direct climate investments. This must change. We call on all leaders from the region to stand up for better climate finance dedicated to children and adolescents in Latin America and the Caribbean at COP28," confirms Victoria Ward, Save the Children's Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. 

Building upon the global report "Falling Short: Addressing the climate finance gap for children," conducted by the Children’s Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI) coalition, the Advocacy Brief is the first-ever child-focused review of international climate finance in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

In tandem with the dynamic discussions unfolding at COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, this Advocacy Brief aims to contribute to dialogues and discussions on gender-responsive solutions and climate finance. 

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Notes to Editors

  • The Advocacy Brief examined all projects and programs approved and funded between 2006 and 2023 by key multilateral climate funds, including the Adaptation Fund, Green Climate Fund, and the Global Environment Facility’s Least Developed Countries Fund and Special Climate Change Fund.   

  • Child-responsive climate funds reach children in only six of the LAC countries (Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Haiti, Trinidad and Tobago and Uruguay), leaving great the majority without tailored support. Among the three LAC countries with the most projects, namely Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica, none is child-responsive.   

  • Children’s role as active stakeholders or agents of change is largely overlooked. The report sheds light on the oversight of children's roles as active stakeholders, with only 5.1 per cent of projects recognizing them as agents of change, even if they are recognized as a vulnerable group in 9.2 per cent of the projects. 

  • 40.8 per cent of the projects finance essential basic services in a way that is sensitive to children, but the distribution between sectors does not correspond to children’s needs. None of the funding is allocated to health services, for example. 

  • Less than half (46.9 per cent) ensure gender considerations in the implementation of the UNFCCC and Paris Agreement (MCF) projects. At the same time, while girls face disproportionate impacts on their rights from climate change their specific needs are almost invisible in LAC MCF finance allocation. Only 0.5 per cent of the climate funds in the region is directed towards girls. 

Recommendations

  • Invest in Child Resilience: Prioritize interventions for child resilience and the resilience of critical social services, addressing the specific risks faced by marginalized children. 

  • Targeted Investments for Girls: Ensure gender-sensitive funding approaches, specifically targeting girls’ needs at different ages. 

  • Integrate Child-Focused Strategies: Embed child-focused approaches in climate policies and investments, emphasizing children’s role as important agents of change, especially girls. 

  • Capacity-Building for Nuanced Finance: Invest in capacity-building for nuanced child-responsive climate finance, providing training for all relevant stakeholders. 

These are some of the recommendations extracted from the Advocacy Brief that underscore the essential steps needed to ensure better climate financing to overcome the unique challenges faced by children, particularly girls, in the context of the climate crisis. 

Media contacts

Sendai Zea
Communication Specialist (Emergencies)
UNICEF Latin America and the Caribbean
Tel: +507 6821 0843

About UNICEF

UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.   

For more information about UNICEF and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/lac/en.

Follow UNICEF on Twitter and Facebook. 

 

About CERI 

The Children's Environmental Rights Initiative (CERI) is a coalition of children and young people, activists, child rights organisations, experts, governmental actors and policy makers from around the world, working together to ensure that children’s fundamental right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is recognised and fulfilled. Falling short: addressing the climate finance gap for children is in part funded by the think tank Capita. 

CERI enables coalition members to collaborate in elevating the voices of children and young people most impacted by environmental harm and climate change while also building the capacity of national decision makers to implement child-focused environmental policy and inform new standards and practices in multilateral processes. The work of the coalition is facilitated by a dedicated secretariat. 

 

About Plan International 

Plan International is an independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls. We believe in the power and potential of every child but know this is often suppressed by poverty, violence, exclusion, and discrimination. And it is girls who are most affected.    

Working together with children, young people, supporters, and partners, we strive for a just world, tackling the root causes of the challenges girls and vulnerable children face. We support children’s rights from birth until they reach adulthood, and we enable children to prepare for and respond to crises and adversity. We drive changes in practice and policy at local, national, and global levels using our reach, experience, and knowledge.     

For over 85 years, we have rallied other determined optimists to transform the lives of all children in more than 80 countries. We won’t stop until we are all equal.   

 

About Save the Children 

Save the Children is an international organization present in more than 120 countries. To ensure that children and adolescents have a better future, we work every day to guarantee children's rights to health, education, and protection from violence. We make sure their needs are met and their voices are heard. We do whatever it takes for children and adolescents, every day and in times of crisis, to transform their lives and the future we share.