Children for climate action
Scaling new heights on Kilimanjaro as Tanzania marks World Children's Day 2023
Arusha, 22 November 2023 – World Children's Day reached new heights this year in Tanzania as celebrity influencers Nancy Sumari and Gaudence Lekule responded to the resounding call of children for climate action by climbing to the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. This inspiring ascent to the highest mountain in Africa, symbolized not only their commitment to the cause but also echoed the urgent plea of children worldwide to address the challenges posed by climate change.
Nancy, a first-time climber, and Gaudence, a record-breaking athlete, joined forces to raise awareness about climate change and its profound impact on children's lives. Amidst the backdrop of melting glaciers, they sent a strong appeal for climate action in Tanzania and globally at the summit, symbolizing collective commitment to climate action for the future of children in Tanzania.
“This was one of the hardest things I have done in my life,” said Sumari. “But I know as hard as it was making it to the top of Kilimanjaro, it’s nothing compared to what children will face every day if we allow climate change to get out of control and impede their access to water, health, education, nutrition, and a clean environment.”
Lekule, an African record-holder for scaling Mount Kilimanjaro in just 8 hours and 36 minutes, is no stranger to pushing limits for climate change. His previous feats include a 65-hour run from Tanga port city to Kilimanjaro’s summit, raising awareness about climate change and melting glaciers. Reflecting on the climb with Nancy, he emphasized, "This climb was very special as we climbed for every child in Tanzania to commemorate World Children’s Day and respond to their call for us adults to take action on climate change to safeguard their and the planet’s future.”
“The climb up Mount Kilimanjaro by Nancy Sumari and Gaudence Lekule is symbolic of the uphill battle societies face in realizing the rights of every child amidst the challenges of climate change.”
To make their voices heard and to share their ideas and contributions on the climate change challenge, children and young people took part in a specific climate and environment focused U-Report survey and in a series of consultations across Tanzania (Kigoma, Mbeya, Zanzibar, and Dar es Salaam). Based on this, they compiled climate action steps and solutions for key decision-makers.
Today, children presented their recommendations directly to key decision-makers at a high-level event organized in Arusha in collaboration with the Government of Tanzania and UNICEF ahead of the COP28. Their perspectives, experiences, and aspirations emphasize the integral link between climate change and child rights, as outlined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC).
Children and young people are not just talking about the change needed, they’re taking action themselves. From waste management to protecting water sources – children are influencing others to act. “There is lots of waste spreading all over the ocean. This is not normal,” said Nuwairat, 8, commenting on the ocean that surrounds her home in Zanzibar. “Our ocean needs to be protected.”
Daudi, 23, from Kigoma, has been making mini stoves that use less charcoal and produce less CO2 emissions. “I created these stoves for my community, and have sold 360 already, making an impact in my community,” he said. Calling themselves Marafika wa Mazingira (Friends of Nature), these children and young people are championing climate action in their community.
“This World Children's Day, and every day, UNICEF will continue to amplify the voices of children. Our collective responsibility is to recognize children not just as vulnerable individuals, but as powerful agents of change,” added Ms Wisch.
About World Children’s Day
World Children’s Day was first established in 1954 as Universal Children's Day and is celebrated on 20 November each year to promote international togetherness, awareness among children worldwide, and improving children's welfare.
November 20th is an important date as it is the date in 1959 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child. It is also the date in 1989 when the UN General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Since 1990, World Children's Day also marks the anniversary of the date that the UN General Assembly adopted both the Declaration and the Convention on children's rights.
The 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as COP28, will be the 28th United Nations Climate Change conference, held from 30 November until 12 December 2023 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The conference has been held annually since the first UN climate agreement in 1992. The COP conferences are intended for governments to agree on policies to limit global temperature rises and adapt to impacts associated with climate change.
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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information about UNICEF:
Visit our website, unicef.org/tanzania, or follow us on social, Facebook/Twitter/YouTube: @UNICEFTanzania, and on Instagram: @uniceftz.