Malawi commits to putting children's rights and voices at the forefront of climate action
Lilongwe, 13 April 2022 – Today, the Republic of Malawi has become the 18th country to officially sign the global Declaration on Children, Youth, and Climate Action, the first-of-its-kind set of commitments by States to consistently consider and accelerate the inclusion of the child and youth-responsive climate policies and actions at national and global levels.
According to the UNICEF's Children's Climate Risk Index Report, Malawi is one of the top 40 countries where climate change is having a significant impact on children. This year alone, tropical storms Ana and Gombe wreaked havoc in the southern region, causing severe damage to key infrastructures including roads, schools, and health facilities and damaging crops, affecting over 995,000 people, 130,000 of whom are children under the age of five. It also kept 100,000 more children and youth out of school.
"Climate and environmental shocks are frequently occurring and with increased intensity, threatening the health, nutrition, education, development and – in too many instances – the very survival of children. While children are the least responsible for the changing environment, they are likely to bear the greatest burden. However, children's rights and voices are often excluded from decision-making processes at local, national, and international levels in climate action," said Gerrit Maritz, Deputy Country Representative of UNICEF Malawi.
The Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action was launched in December 2019 during the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP25) by UNICEF, in collaboration with YOUNGO and the Children's Environmental Rights Initiative coalition.
Following the deliberations of COP26 last year, and considering the roadmap for COP 27, the Government of Malawi has decided to make a formal commitment to ensuring that children and young people are supported to be champions for climate change through education, opportunities to develop green skills and to meaningfully participate and engage in policy formulation so that their views and perspectives are heard and acted upon.
"Malawi is firmly convinced that we must respond to the climate crisis while keeping in mind that it is primarily a child rights crisis. We must also recognize children and youth's enormous capacity to be powerful agents of change. With this Declaration, the Malawi government will ensure that children's rights are well embedded in all main sectors, policies, and strategies on climate change, starting from the Nationally Determined Contributions. To that end, the Ministry of Forestry and Climate Change is using today's event to sign the Declaration on Children, Youth, and Climate Action," said the Minister of Natural Resources and Climate Change, Honourable Eisenhower Mkaka, at the ongoing Southern African Development Community Regional Green Climate Conference in Lilongwe.
"Only a few African countries have taken up this noble commitment. In doing so, Malawi invites all the SADC members to join this effort to address the risks and impacts of climate change on children," added Honourable Minister Mkaka.
"UNICEF applauds the efforts of the Government of Malawi to put children at the heart of climate action and invest in practical solutions that protect children from the impact of climate change. UNICEF stands ready with a firm commitment to support in the operationalizing of the Declaration, which will have a transformative effect on children's rights and our ability to meet both the Paris Agreement and Sustainable Development Goals," said Gerrit Maritz, Deputy Country Representative of UNICEF Malawi.
Notes to editors
Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Action: Read here
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