Uganda Youth and Children Statement on Climate Action for the African Climate Summit 2023
“The Climate Crisis is a Child Rights Crisis”
Kampala, 29 August 2023 –Ahead of the African Climate Summit in September, we as representatives of children and youth in Uganda together with UNICEF are urgently calling upon the Government and all stakeholders to take immediate and firm action in the face of the climate crisis to meet global targets.
Today, as we engage with the government delegation that will attend the African Climate Summit in Nairobi, our request is for the voices of children and young people to be heard and included in major decision making with regards to the climate crisis.
The climate crisis is a child rights crisis because it is the greatest threat facing Uganda’s children and young people. Placing children at the center of climate discourse - to ensure that their needs and rights shape accelerated action that is required in line with the Paris Agreement, the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), which is the global treaty outlining the human rights of the child and many other frameworks.
We are duty bound to act and will galvanize national commitments to ensure children -especially the most vulnerable – are protected from the worst impacts of a changing climate and degrading environment. Both current and future generations are at risk of adverse effects of climate change. As we speak, whole communities have been rendered homeless, some children are forced to migrate, they are no longer able to attend school because of climate effects, food insecurity and drought continue to affect children and families in some parts of Uganda, lives continue to be lost and the list continues. This is not the time to be complacent, but the time to act and work together for a more sustainable environment.
We implore the Ugandan Government to lead by example at international forums, including the African Climate Summit, and to champion the theme "The climate crisis is a child rights crisis" by pledging ambitious and actionable climate commitments that prioritize and protect our rights and well-being, both at national and global levels.
We are all bearing the brunt of the climate crisis and the situation will only get worse if we do not act now. Therefore, we are urging our leaders to:
PRIORITIZE children and young people in climate funding and resources; Adaptation and resilience building remains critically underfunded and under-resourced, yet they go a long way in saving and protecting lives.
- Climate financing with a child lens: Include child responsive measures, especially in climate finance, address intergenerational equity by prioritizing children who are already experiencing the worst effects of loss and damage in their communities.
- Youth Green Innovation Financing opportunities. Create a fund and clear and easy access that support young entrepreneurs, especially young women, to create green jobs and eco-friendly business ideas.
PREVENT the worsening of the crisis for children and young people by securing rapid emissions reduction (mitigation) and the transition to renewable energy.
- Natural Resource Protection and Youth-Driven Reforestation: Strengthen efforts to protect and sustain forests, wetlands, and other natural resources that play a vital role in climate regulation by engaging youth in large-scale reforestation projects to combat deforestation and enhance biodiversity.
- A livable planet: Immediate action is needed to shift to renewable energy sources, improving air quality, transforming industrial agriculture and fisheries, protecting biodiversity, and ensuring access to clean water.
PROTECT the health, safety, learning and opportunities of every child; by adapting the critical social services they rely on - water and sanitation (WASH), health, education, nutrition, social protection, and child protection - so they are resilient to the immediate and expected impacts of climate change.
- Invest in Climate Resilient and Sustainable Infrastructure: Allocate resources to build and maintain climate-resilient facilities including, but not limited to education, water and sanitation, health, transport, and energy.
- Community-Based Adaptation: Support community-led climate adaptation projects that protect vulnerable populations.
PREPARE children and young people to live in a climate-changed world; by improving their ‘adaptive capacity,’ ensuring their voices are heard and acted on, and their education and skills are enhanced so they can participate in creating a sustainable future.
- Prioritize Climate Education: Integrate climate education into the national and international curriculums, ensuring that every child, especially the most vulnerable, understands the impacts of climate change and is equipped with the tools and skills to meaningfully participate and contribute to climate action and solutions.
- Empower Girls and Young Women: Design and implement programmes that empower young women and girls, ensuring their participation, access to quality education, healthcare, and opportunities, thereby creating a more equitable and resilient society.
- Support Green Livelihoods: Establish equitable livelihood options for young people, especially those in climate change prone areas.
- Nationwide Climate Campaigns: Launch inclusive social behavioural change, communication, and advocacy campaigns to raise awareness about climate change and its impact to drive climate action.
As young people of Uganda, we believe in the power of collective action to combat the climate crisis and safeguard our rights. With hope in our hearts and determination in our voices, we stand ready to create a brighter, more sustainable future for Uganda. The time to act is now to ensure a livable Uganda for every child!
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 and its work for children, visit www.unicef.org/uganda