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World Environment Day 2008

© UNICEF Malaysia/2006/Nadchatram

Erratic weather places children squarely at harm’s door

KUALA LUMPUR, 5 June 2008 – Our countries and communities are at risk. Rising sea levels and melting ice caps … severe weather events … cyclones, droughts and flooding are but a few of the increasing environmental impacts challenging communities and children today.

Climate change, warn experts, is one of the culprits for all these worrying ecological developments, including the frequency and severity of natural disasters in recent years. With its dramatic and harmful effects on the environment, climate change threatens the basic elements of life for people throughout the world, particularly children and women.

Last year, the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report found that malnutrition and associated disorders, including those relating to child growth and development, could increase as the global climate changes.

Citing warnings by climate experts, UNICEF Malaysia Representative Mr. Youssouf Oomar explains the harm that erratic weather patterns bring to children.

“Warming and shifting rains could impact crop production, which could reduce food availability. In 2006, some 36 per cent of children globally were either moderately or severely underweight,” said Mr. Youssouf. “If we continue to turn a blind eye to this problem, we make more children pay for our mistakes with their hunger, and possibly their lives”.

In Ethiopia for example, consecutive failed rainy seasons and steep hikes in food prices amongst others are all having a devastating impact on the lives of some 126,000 children living in drought-prone districts. A child with severe malnutrition is in immediate danger of death.

But even before climate change came to light, our indiscriminate actions had already resulted in water sources being polluted, forests being wiped out, animal species disappearing from the face of the earth and children’s health being jeopardised daily because of the pollution we create.

“When we build indiscriminately, dump our garbage into waterways, slash and burn our forests, and practice unsustainable agriculture, these actions lead to floods, soil erosion, landslides and desertification,” added Mr. Youssouf.

Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy” is this year’s World Environment Day (WED) slogan in recognition of how climate change is fast becoming the defining issue of our era. Observed globally on 5 June, WED aims to give a human face to environmental issues and to empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development.

As part of the program, the United Nations Environment Program is asking countries, companies and communities to focus on greenhouse gas emissions and how to reduce them. This year’s event hosted by New Zealand will highlight resources and initiatives that promote low carbon economies and life-styles, such as improved energy efficiency, alternative energy sources, forest conservation and eco-friendly consumption.

Proposed measures include greater energy efficiency in buildings and appliances, including light bulbs, up to a switch towards cleaner and renewable forms of electricity generation and transport systems. A transition to a low carbon economy is essential to reversing the growth of global greenhouse gas emissions. Developed and developing countries stand to benefit environmentally, economically and socially from more efficient low-carbon technologies and strategies.

“It is critical that we examine the state of our environment. The world we live in belong to our children and all future generations. Our actions today are critical not only to preserving the world for them tomorrow, but more importantly, our actions now will protect our children lives today,” said Mr. Youssouf.


Note to Editors

World Environment Day

World Environment Day is the United Nations flagship environmental event, celebrated every year on 5 June in more than 100 countries around the world. It was established in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly and its commemoration is entrusted to the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

On that particular day, heads of State, Prime Ministers and Ministers of Environment deliver statements and commit themselves to care for the Earth. Pledges are made which lead to the establishment of permanent governmental structures dealing with environmental management. It also provides an opportunity to sign or ratify international environmental conventions. World Environment Day can be celebrated in many ways, including street rallies, bicycles parades, green concerts, essay and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, recycling efforts, clean-up campaigns and much more. In many countries, this annual event is used to enhance political attention and action.





World Environment Day 2008


UNICEF: Climate Change and Children (TRT 4:13) 

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Climate Change and Children


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