MADRID, 9 December 2019: UNICEF Global Chief of Communication Paloma Escudero delivers a speech at a high-level UNICEF-OHCHR event and calls for urgent action on the climate crisis.
"Muy bienvenidos a todos. Thank you so much for joining us today for this very special High-Level Event on the Climate Crisis and Children’s Rights.
"My name is Paloma Escudero. I am the Global Director of Communication at UNICEF.
"I am delighted to be welcoming you to an event where children are taking centre stage and leading all of us in a dialogue about the impact of the climate crisis on their lives. The presence of Theo, Pablo, Camila, Penelope, Nkosi and Sara today reminds us that the demands we are hearing from young people on the streets all over the world need to be reflected in the corridors of power in Madrid.
"I am also delighted to welcome representatives of governments who are committed to putting children at the heart of climate policies. Chile, Costa Rica, Fiji, Luxembourg, Monaco, Nigeria, Peru and Spain have indeed signed the declaration we are launching today. This Intergovernmental Declaration on Children, Youth and Climate Change is a historic step towards accelerating inclusive, child-responsive climate policies – policies that protect, respect and fulfill the rights of society’s most vulnerable, and enhance the participation of young people in the decisions that affect them.
"Why is this Declaration important? For two reasons:
"1. The climate crisis is a child rights crisis: We cannot lose sight of this fact, particularly as the world celebrates the 30-year anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child this year, and of course, Human Rights Day tomorrow. From hurricanes to droughts to floods to wildfires, the consequences of the climate crisis are all around us, affecting children the most and threatening their health, education, protection and very survival. Let me give you an example. Half a billion children live in areas at extremely high risk of floods due to extreme weather events such as cyclones, hurricanes and storms, as well as rising sea levels. Just a few days ago UNICEF released a report saying that the number of children forced to leave their homes because of storms in the Caribbean increased six times in the periods 2009-2013 and 2014-2018.
"2. The second reason why this Declaration is important is that, right now only 42% of national climate plans mention children or youth, and only 22% mention children explicitly. We must do better than that! As member states continue to move forward in the implementation of the Paris Agreement, they have a unique window of opportunity to put children front and centre. Because, as the Secretary General said here last week, the climate crisis is getting closer and closer to the point of no return.
"This is why it is imperative that we put children at the heart of climate policies. And why it is urgent that we invest in the practical solutions that protect children from the effects of climate change.
"With the right technology and funding, we can preserve supplies of clean, safe ground water so that children are not at risk of killer diseases.
"With long-term investments, we can build more resilient communities that are able to withstand extreme weather events, so that if a massive storm, flood or wildfire happens, they can recover quickly, and children are not uprooted from home and school.
"With the right kind of education, children can grow up knowing how to create sustainable communities, become leaders of sustainable businesses and live sustainable lifestyles.
"With a massive programme to deliver solar-power health centres, schools and other essential services, we can create cleaner, cheaper and more sustainable facilities for children around the world.
"There is reason for hope. We still have a chance to turn things around. No - not just a chance. An obligation. A duty. Because children have a right to inherit a healthy planet."