A new UNICEF report on children's vulnerability to climate change in East Asia, has warned that children in the region will be among those most affected by climate change.

Millions of children across East Asia and the Pacific already suffer from a lack of access to clean water and proper sanitation, and are vulnerable to food shortages and disease. Climate change is expected to greatly worsen this situation.

UNICEF UK Executive Director David Bull said: "This report highlights the urgent need to help children around the world adapt to the clear threat of climate change.

"At the climate negotiations in Durban later this month politicians must show leadership for children and set out how they will raise the extra $100 billion a year by 2020 they have promised to help vulnerable countries adapt to climate change."

Asia and the Pacific is the world's most disaster-prone region, with 70% of the lives lost to disasters concentrated here. The number of storms in the South West Pacific over the last two decades which have caused catastrophic damage is double that recorded in previous decades. The report also shows that in Mongolia, thunderstorms, flash floods and hail storms have increased by 20% over past two decades.

Climate change has a major impact on some of the leading killers of children. Higher temperatures have been linked to increased rates of malnutrition, cholera, diarrhoeal disease and vector-borne diseases like dengue and malaria, while children's developing immune systems put them at far greater risk of contracting these diseases and succumbing to their complications. In a region where one in every four children is already stunted due to poor nutrition, the report also warns that food prices for major grains will double by 2050, unless action is taken.

  Two boys fish in a lagoon in Kiribati. © UNICEF/NYHQ2006-2482/Giacomo Pirozzi
Two boys fish in a lagoon in Kiribati, which is being adversely affected by climate change. © UNICEF/NYHQ2006-2482/Giacomo Pirozzi