Children and Climate Change
Viet Nam is one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to climate change, with children and women particularly at risk.
Globally, Viet Nam is the sixth most affected country by climate change. Each year, increasingly intense and unpredictable weather events cause fatalities and extensive damage to infrastructure, such as schools and health centres, and impact on the livelihoods of already disadvantaged communities in urban and rural areas.
Children are especially affected by these natural disasters. Access to food, water, education and healthcare is threatened and the pressure on communities – resulting from loss of income and assets – increases children’s exposure to violence, exploitation and abuse. Women also tend to be disproportionately impacted, further increasing negative effects on children, as they may be less able to provide sufficient nutrition or care.
“Climate vulnerability affects more than 74 per cent of the population, especially the poor who lack resilience to shocks, while urbanization has increased the vulnerabilities of migrant families who have limited access to social services.”
These trends are forecast to intensify over time. By 2050, an expected rise in average temperatures by 1-2 degrees Celsius will likely result in higher incidences of droughts with greater intensity and increased rainfall leading to a one-metre rise in sea levels along coastal regions. This will have life-changing impacts on lowland regions with no adaptation measures, with nearly half of the Mekong Delta region – critical for food security and the nation’s economy – particularly at risk. For communities, this will mean reduced incomes and crop yields, degraded natural resources, loss of assets and infrastructure, reduced mobility with no access to work or services and increased human diseases, with resulting decreased labour productivity.
UNICEF is working to help Viet Nam strengthen the ability of its children, families, communities and government bodies to deal with climate change-related natural disasters, with a specific focus on reducing child vulnerabilities. We support government to reduce risks, plan for natural disasters and ensure vulnerable populations are better prepared to withstand climate change shocks. Building resilience to these shocks within families and communities is paramount in this context.
With ratification of several international agreements putting the heat on Viet Nam to take a robust approach to tackling climate change impacts, UNICEF has developed a vision that recognizes the importance of supporting humanitarian responses to disasters with longer-term and sustainable development work.
“UNICEF, understanding children are especially at risk to natural hazards and climate change, has made a strategic shift in response to increasingly severe climate change-related weather events to take a Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction approach in Viet Nam.”
At the heart of this response is a Child-Centred Disaster Risk Reduction (CCDRR) approach that identifies, assesses and reduces the potential loss of lives, health status, livelihoods, assets and services. With this child-centred response, in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, UNICEF is working to keep communities safe through initiatives such as promotion of the Safe Schools model, community-based child protection systems, raising awareness of natural disasters among children using innovative technologies and youth-led initiatives as well as mapping risks in schools and communities. By supporting the government to implement CCDRR, we will ensure communities, families and children are supported and empowered to withstand the growing severity, frequency and cumulative effects of natural hazards.