Exploring the impact of climate change on children in South Africa

Children are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

UNICEF South Africa/2011/Schermbrucker


Children are disproportionately vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. The specific nature of their vulnerability is multidimensional, shaped largely by the physical, social, and emotional changes that take place over the course of childhood. These changes are intensified by children’s heightened sensitivity to negative or high-impact events during the early stages of development and by their general lack of agency and voice.

In the case of South Africa, the impacts of climate change on children need to be considered in relation to wider development pressures affecting the country. Challenges such as international economic shocks and stresses, high levels of poverty and inequality, population changes, effects of HIV and AIDS, management of scarce natural resources and rapid urbanisation will each interact with climate change. The results of those interactions will affect how far the effects of climate change are transmitted to children and households at the local level. With this in mind, an effective response to changing climate and development pressures requires efforts from all stakeholders as well as good coordination across multiple levels of governance, from household and community, through municipal and provincial, to national and international levels.

UNICEF South Africa
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