UNICEF UK calls on UK Government to show leadership for children at Durban climate change conference.

 

A new UNICEF report, Children’s Vulnerabilities to Climate Change and Disaster Impacts in East Asia and the Pacific, 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 shocks and risks of 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.

We urge the UK government to make an ambitious and fair contribution towards this, by adopting a tax on dirty fuel used in shipping and aviation, and a Robin Hood tax. These resources will help make a climate safe future for children.’

Climate Change in East Asia-Pacific

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 2 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.

‘The findings in this report remind us of the connection between climate change and the other challenges confronting children,’ said Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF Regional Director for East Asia and the Pacific. “They also remind us that children’s experiences, and the risks they face in terms of their health, education and development, are unique.’

Children’s experiences

The UNICEF report released today presents an analysis of the climate change trends and potential impacts on children in East Asia and the Pacific, drawing on findings from five UNICEF-commissioned country studies in Indonesia, Kiribati, Vanuatu , Mongolia and the Philippines, as well as children’s own perspectives on climate change. While the report suggests that the impacts of climate change vary from country to country, children in all countries were aware that changes in their environment were already present.

In Kiribati, children told researchers that coastal erosion was worsening. In Mongolia, children noted harsher winters and declining water resources. In the Philippines, children spoke of heavier rainy periods and in Vanuatu, children reported increased water contamination from saltwater intrusion.

Children in Indonesia, Mongolia and the Pacific reported that climate change has affected their families’ livelihoods and in some cases it has caused parents to take them out of school to help collect water and fuel and supplement household income.

‘Engaging children in adaptation and disaster reduction strategies will be critical to future success. Children have unique perspectives on their environment, which makes them a vital player in improving community capacity to address climate change risks,’ said Rao Singh.

Evidence demonstrates that when children are educated, informed and involved, they share this information with others in their communities and are better able to prepare and protect themselves.

‘The impacts of climate change on the lives and well-being of children are real and the policies and decisions made today will set the tone for years to come,’ said Rao Singh. ‘Now is the time to put in place adaptation strategies that ensure that the risks specific to children are addressed. By doing this, we will go some way in helping to build a climate-resilient world for children.’

***ENDS***

For further information, please contact:

Stephen Pattison, Senior Media Officer for Children's Rights and Campaigns, UNICEF UK, 0207 375 6085 / stephenp@unicef.org.uk

About UNICEF
UNICEF is the world’s leading organisation working for children and their rights in more than 190 countries. As champion of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF works to help every child realise their full potential. Together with our partners, UNICEF delivers health care, nutrition, education and protection to children in urgent need, while working with governments to ensure they deliver on their promise to protect and promote the rights of every child. UNICEF relies entirely on voluntary donations from individuals, governments, institutions and corporations, and is not funded by the UN budget. For more information, please visit www.unicef.org.uk.

About the research
This research was commissioned by the UNICEF regional office in Bangkok with kind support from Reed Elsevier.