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Children will bear the brunt of climate change: UNICEF

#ClimateChange #COP21
Children are the least responsible for climate change, but are the ones who will live with its consequences

© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-0321/Dean

A boy in Myanmar whose house has been destroyed watches an approaching storm.

NEW YORK/GENEVA, 24 November 2015 – More than half a billion children live in areas with extremely high flood occurrence and 160 million in high drought severity zones, leaving them highly exposed to the impacts of climate change, UNICEF said in a report released ahead of the 21st United Nations climate change conference, known as COP21.

Of the 530 million children in the flood-prone zones, some 300 million live in countries where more than half the population lives in poverty – on less than $3.10 a day. Of those living in high drought severity areas, 50 million are in countries where more than half the population lives in poverty.

“The sheer numbers underline the urgency of acting now,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Today’s children are the least responsible for climate change, but they, and their children, are the ones who will live with its consequences. And, as is so often the case, disadvantaged communities face the gravest threat.”

A vicious cycle

© UNICEF/NYHQ2011-1389/Page

A father carries his daughter across the flood waters in Digri, Pakistan.

Climate change means more droughts, floods, heatwaves and other severe weather conditions. These events can cause death and devastation, and can also contribute to the increased spread of major killers of children, such as malnutrition, malaria and diarrhoea. This can create a vicious circle: A child deprived of adequate water and sanitation before a crisis will be more affected by a flood, drought, or severe storm, less likely to recover quickly, and at even greater risk when faced with a subsequent crisis.

The vast majority of the children living in areas at extremely high risk of floods are in Asia, and the majority of those in areas at risk of drought are in Africa.

Right decisions

© Green Voices of Borneo/2015

To avoid pesticide use, Indigenous children in Sabah help their families remove snails from the paddy fields.

World leaders gathering in Paris for COP21 – held from November 30 to December 11 – will seek to reach agreement on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which most experts say is critical to limiting potentially catastrophic rises in temperature.

“We know what has to be done to prevent the devastation climate change can inflict. Failing to act would be unconscionable,” said Lake. “We owe it to our children – and to the planet – to make the right decisions at COP21.”


Note to Editors:

Download broadcast quality photos and video

Green Voices of Borneo – Climate Mapping
To provide Indigenous youth in Malaysia with a platform to express their concerns and solutions about climate change, UNICEF Malaysia partnered with NYHQ Voices of Youth (VOY) and a local community mapping NGO – TONIBUNG – for the global Young People’s Climate Change Mapping initiative. Twenty Indigenous youth aged 16-27 years old in Sabah were trained to piece together a climate change map using photos and text uploaded to the VOY digital mapping system <>. A youth from Green Voices of Borneo, Bellinda Raymond (22), is in Paris for the COY11 and COP21. Read News Release

For More Information:

Patrick Moser, UNICEF New York
+ 1 212 326 7120;   

Sasha Surandran, UNICEF Media Kuala Lumpur
+6 019 658 5160





Unless We Act Now


VOY Digital Mapping

Green Voices of Borneo

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