Expanding knowledge of climate change, green skills and resilience techniques can help prepare children for impending climate crises and shield them from climate-related health risks, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.
The organisation noted in a guideline published Aug. 31 that children should be provided with knowledge of climate change through formal and informal education, and countries should ensure they participate in climate action, adaptation and resilience activities.
“Ensuring children know how to survive and respond to the increasing climate risks and hazards is essential, and is their right. Children must have the ability to participate in all aspects of comprehensive school safety, school and community disaster management and learn safety rules for specific hazards,” UNICEF explained.
The report also emphasised the need to prioritise children in climate funding.
“Because of the gulf between the global action needed to reduce emissions and any tangible game-changing response, the climate crisis will rapidly intensify and its impact on children will become deadlier,” the organisation said.
“Children are already uniquely vulnerable to death and damage from climate change – they are less able to survive extreme weather, are more susceptible to toxic chemicals, temperature changes and diseases. If they survive, this harm lasts a lifetime and perpetuates and deepens inequality and poverty for generations.”
In regions like East Africa, UNICEF said, disruptions in rain patterns have caused terrible droughts, leading millions of children across various countries to need urgent life-saving support.
It added that it was necessary to invest in systems, such as Early Warning Systems, to enable communities to prepare and protect their children from climate shocks.
A Swedish child rights organisation had argued, in August, that inadequacies in studying climate change impacts aggravate violence against children.
“In the rapidly changing climate we are experiencing, we cannot afford to sit on the bench,” it said. “We need to strengthen the discourse on linking climate change and environmental degradation risks and protecting children from violence, especially at local levels where children are impacted the most.”
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