06 June 2024

Climate Change Impact on Child Health

The 2021 UNICEF Children’s Climate Risk Index (CCRI)1 brought attention to heightened exposure that children face globally due to climate and environmental hazards. Nearly half (1 billion) of the world’s children live in countries at an extremely high risk. Children under the age of 5, bear a shocking 88 percent of the global disease burden. The 28th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) took a groundbreaking step by recognizing children's vulnerability and incorporating an expert dialogue on children and climate change into the UNFCCC process for the first time during the 60th session of the Subsidiary Bodies (SB60) in Bonn slated for June 2024. In Zimbabwe, approximately 7.1 million children (47 percent of the population) are 18 years and below, and face heightened risk to climate change induced challenges such as food insecurity, water scarcity and disruption to access to basic services due to climate change.To contribute to the expert dialogue scheduled for June 2024, the Government of Zimbabwe and UNICEF conducted nationwide consultations with children and their caregivers to understand firsthand how climate change affects child health. These consultations aimed to gather experiences and generate evidence-based recommendations to be used in advocating for child-sensitive climate action, including in the UNFCCC processes. The consultations engaged over 1000 children and caregivers through focus group discussions and interviews, including sessions specifically with children with disabilities, and the digital community U-report2.Throughout the process, children and caregivers demonstrated their awareness of climate change and its impacts on their health, survival, and well-being.