20 June 2024

Child-responsive adaptation in West and Central Africa

The climate crisis is a child rights crisis. However, children continue to bear the brunt of climate change impacts and will face these increasingly as the crisis deepens. This is particularly the case in West and Central Africa, where children are the most exposed to climate risks globally, according to UNICEF research.States’ responsibility to integrate child-responsive elements in their adaptation policies and strategies derives from the Paris Agreement but also the affirmation of children’s right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment by the Human Rights Council, the United Nations General Assembly and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) since 2021.This policy brief presents the findings of a child-centred review of National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Adaptation Communications (ADCOMs) from West and Central Africa. The findings indicate that children are not taken into account to the extent required in adaptation policies and strategies in the region. However, there is scope for hope.A call to actionUNICEF is calling on parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, in the region and beyond, to take urgent action to protect the lives, health, and well-being of children and future generations, by integrating robust and ambitious child-responsive elements into the formulation and implementation of their NAPs. In addition, countries are exhorted to allocate a substantive amount of international climate finance and assistance, including through the Green Climate Fund’s Readiness Programme, to child-focused interventions in order to address the climate finance gap for children. From the perspective of international climate negotiations, this has to be linked to the Global Goal on Adaptation, which will be strengthened by 2025 and COP 30 to protect the most vulnerable from the impacts of climate change. Our children’s future is at stake.