28 November 2023
Quote from UNICEF Deputy Executive Director Kitty van der Heijden:

“Our success or failure in tackling the climate crisis will be judged by two numbers. Keeping 1.5 degrees alive and protecting the 1 billion child lives that are in jeopardy from this crisis.

“The climate crisis is not just changing the planet. It is changing children. Children’s bodies and minds are uniquely vulnerable to climate impacts and children are disproportionately affected by this crisis not of their making.

“Yet today, thirty years after the UNFCCC was signed, children’s needs, rights and perspectives are almost totally absent from climate policy, action and investment at all levels. COP28 can put this right. Leaders must put children at the heart of the COP28 outcomes, giving their unique vulnerabilities, needs and rights the gravity they deserve.”


The issue:

Parties to the Paris Agreement agreed that when taking climate action, states should respect, promote, and consider the rights of children, as well as intergenerational equity. There is also clear guidance in UN Committee on the Rights of the Child General

Comment 26 that states must take action to uphold children’s rights to a clean, healthy and sustainable planet. Despite this agreement, it has not yet translated into significant child-sensitive climate policy initiatives or investments. For example:

  • Less than half of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) globally are child sensitive and a mere 23 per cent of Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) mentioned that the NDC process was participatory and involved young people. Even less, 2 per cent, mentioned that the process involved children.
  • Just 2.4% of climate finance from key multilateral climate funds can be classified as child-responsive and of 591 projects approved over a 17-year period from 2006-2023, just one project focused on education as its principal objective.
  • The word “children” appears only twice in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s 2023 Synthesis Report of the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report. The UN synthesis report on the technical dialogue of the first global stocktake released in September 2023 does not refer to “children” at all and “youth” only four times.

Read more about why the world’s children need urgent action on climate change, here.


UNICEF is calling on leaders to:
  • Elevate children within the final COP28 Cover Decision and convene an expert dialogue on children and climate change.
    • The inclusion in the cover decision will result in a critical process for integrating child rights, and the expert dialogue process will secure widespread understanding of the disproportionate impacts on children and options for Parties action
  • Embed children and intergeneration equity in the Global Stocktake (GST).
    • The global stock take will inform the next round of Nationally Determined Contribution (NDCs) submissions and the inclusion of a strong focus on children will set a precedent for greater inclusion and focus including in all future NDCs
  • Include children and climate resilient essential services within the final decision on the Global Goal for Adaptation (GGA).
    • Ensuring the GGA decision text includes key recommendations for children will strengthen the implementation of adapted services for children in every country for years.
  • Ensure the Loss and Damage Fund and funding arrangements are child-responsive with child rights embedded in the fund's governance and decision-making process.
    • Loss and damage caused by the climate crisis is a major intergenerational injustice and embedding child rights in the Fund’s governance and decision making will ensure children are considered and responded to



We are working with more than 100 child and youth climate activists at COP28, including from countries worst affected by the climate crisis. Many are available for media interviews, primarily in English, Arabic, French and Spanish.


Subjects UNICEF is spotlighting:

Child health
Just released: The Climate Changed Child report details how children's health is affected by climate change and contains new data on how and where children are exposed to water related threats that jeopardize their health and wellbeing. It found 739 million children were exposed to high or extremely high water scarcity in 2022. A joint Call to Action with WHO and UNFPA is available, here.
Abheet Solomon, UNICEF Lead, Healthy Environments for Healthy Children, is available for interview. He is in Dubai 2-4 December.

Youth participation
Children’s press briefing

WHEN: 6 December, 10-10.30am GST | Press Conference Room 1, Zone B8
UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Vanessa Nakate will introduce four child climate activists from around the world. The children will be given the floor in the official press conference room to speak about their experiences at COP28 and their calls to action for world leaders.
Children and youth are available for interview throughout the duration of COP28.
For the first time at a COP, immediately before entering discussions, country negotiators will hear from children in 13 countries via pre—recorded videos describing their experiences of climate change. These videos are available on request.

Green skills and entrepreneurship
Launch of Green Rising, an initiative led by UNICEF, Generation Unlimited and partners to support child and youth-led grassroots climate action through volunteering, green skills, jobs, entrepreneurship, and advocacy.
Date/time: 2 December, 12:00PM-1:00PM
Venue: YCC Pavilion (Blue Zone)
Description: The launch of Green Rising will bring together will bring together leaders from UNICEF Generation Unlimited's public-private-youth partner network, including Head of States and the COP28 Youth Climate Champion. Commitments to advance children and youth-led climate action around the world will be shared with a call to action for other leaders to join in support.
Kevin Frey, Generation Unlimited CEO, is available for interview. He is in Dubai 1-9 December.

Innovation30 – Young Climate Innovators Shaping the Future. The initiative from UNICEF and partners will present scientifically vetted and investor-ready climate innovations created by 24 young climate innovators (under 30) from 19 countries. The solutions include air pollution reduction, renewable energy sources, waste management systems, climate -resilient food and water, water conservation and disaster preparedness. They will be presented at an interactive holographic exhibition which offers a 3D display of the innovators pitching their solutions in a series of 1-minute holograms. Learn more: https://uni.cf/innovation30
Weshare Package (all assets): https://weshare.unicef.org/Folder/2AM408L8A6K4
The young innovators are available for interview, including several who will be at COP28. Thomas Davin , UNICEF Office of Innovation Director, is available for interview. He is in Dubai 1-4 December.

Child Rights
Event: The UAE COP28 Presidency and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), in partnership with the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child, will host an expert intergenerational dialogue on COP28's Youth, Children, Education, and Skills Day: "From Most Vulnerable to Most Valuable: Placing Child Rights at the Heart of Climate Action."
Date/time: December 8, 2023 from 10:00 am – 11:00 am (Gulf Standard Time)
Venue: Al Saih (Blue Zone), Dubai, UAE
Speakers include H.E. Ambassador Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Former Executive Secretary, UNFCCC (Chair), H.E. Shamma Al Mazrui, COP28 Youth Climate Champion and UAE Minister of Community Development, Kitty van der Heijden, Deputy Executive Director, UNICEF, Dubravka Šuica, Vice President, European Commission, Vanessa Nakate, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador, Prof. Ann Skelton, Chair, UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, Dr. Susan Gardner, Director of Ecosystems Division, UNEP, Dr. Ladislaus Chang'a, Vice Chair, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Dr. Luis Benveniste, Global Director for Education, World Bank, Fati N’Zi-Hassane, Africa Director, Oxfam International, Sagarika Sriram, Founder and CEO, Kids4abetterworld, Francisco Vera, UNICEF Youth Advocate


Spokespeople available for interviews:




Kitty van der Heijden

Deputy Executive Director - Partnerships

George Laryea-Adjei

Director, Programme Group

Carla Haddad Mardini

Director, Private Fundraising and Partnerships Division

Thomas Davin

Director, Office of Innovation

Kevin Frey

Director, Generation Unlimited

Paloma Escudero

Senior Advisor, Climate Advocacy

Gautam Narasimhan

Global Lead for Climate, Energy and Environment

Lily Caprani

Chief of Advocacy

Eltayeb Adam

UNICEF Gulf Area Office Representative

Jumana Haj-Ahmad

UNICEF Gulf Area Office 

Deputy Representative

Media contacts

Tess Ingram
Tel: +1 347 593 2593


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. 

UNICEF’s Regional Office for South Asia (ROSA) works with UNICEF Country Offices in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka to help to save children’s lives, defend their rights, and help them fulfil their potential. For more information about UNICEF’s work for children in South Asia, visit www.unicef.org/rosa and follow UNICEF ROSA on Twitter and Facebook