Young child wearing a yellow raincoat.
Young child wearing a yellow raincoat.

Climate crisis

Child rights crisis

The climate crisis is a child rights crisis

Climate change is changing children’s lives. Children are being hit hardest by climate change, yet they are the least responsible for it. Nearly half of the world’s children (1 billion) live in countries that are at extremely high risk from the impacts of climate change.

Adapting food, water, health and education

Climate change is harming children’s right to food, water, health care, and education. The growing number of extreme weather events is putting more children’s lives at risk. When floods rage, schools, homes and hospitals are destroyed. When droughts hit, children must walk miles to find food and water. Rising sea levels and toxic air turn children’s communities into hazardous environments. Every year, environmental factors take the lives of 1.7 million children under the age of five.

We urgently need increased financing and innovation to change and strengthen our health services, schools, water systems and food supplies. For children to be protected from climate change, we need to make changes.  

Reducing risks from climate-related disasters and helping children adapt

UNICEF is one of the world’s largest humanitarian responders to climate and weather-related disasters. But we are also on the ground before an emergency to ensure communities can withstand a crisis; and we remain afterwards to rebuild stronger systems for  the long term.

For children to be protected from climate change, we need to make changes. Of course, we also need to massively reduce carbon emissions and transition to clean, sustainable energy to slow the pace of global warming. However, climate change is happening now, and we must change now. Children’s lives can’t wait until we achieve net zero.

Before disaster strikes, children need action to reduce their risk of harm. UNICEF works with governments to strengthen services and infrastructure to prepare for and reduce the impact of climate-related disasters. UNICEF helps to map vulnerability, design advanced early warning systems and build climate-proof schools and hospitals.

Children and young people around the world, supported by their communities and UNICEF, are acting to create a climate-safe world. Working together, we are finding solutions that transform our world today and tomorrow. Solutions that create a better world for every child. UNICEF amplifies children’s calls for action and supports children as empowered changemakers. We advocate for children to be at the heart of climate change actions, decisions and plans

Climate work in 70 countries

UNICEF has child-inclusive programmes that promote climate resilience in more than 70 countries. These programmes ensure the basic services that children rely on – such as water, health care and education – are resilient to the impacts of climate change. UNICEF is helping to protect schools, health centres, water and sanitation facilities, and other vital services from climate shocks. And we partner with public and private sectors to promote clean, renewable and sustainable energy solutions. Here are some examples of our work to help children adapt to the changing climate across the globe.


Our work in numbers​

96 solar powered water systems commissioned​

20 health care facilities electrified using solar power​

1 million people benefited from solar-powered cold chain for vaccination​

Power through the storm ​

When Storm Ana hit in January 2022, much of the country went into blackout, but UNICEF-supported solar-powered health centres remained operational as they did not rely on the main electricity grid.​

Global impact​

Around the world, UNICEF's water, sanitation and hygiene programmes are reaching more people than ever. From 2018 to 2021, UNICEF directly supported nearly 70 million people to access clean water and almost 60 million people to access basic sanitation. In 2022 UNICEF constructed a total of 1,855 solar water systems serving communities, schools and health centres, the most ever in a single year

Girls smiling in a car


A climate change curriculum

Fast-onset hazards such as flooding, landslides and cyclones have caused repeated destruction of schools in India. UNICEF is working with the Government of India to integrate climate change education into the new National Curriculum Framework and supporting school safety programmes and disaster risk-reduction activities.

Changes in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

In Bihar, UNICEF is supporting the Government to rollout a school safety programme with climate change education for all government and private schools, reaching 22 million children. ​

In Uttar Pradesh, UNICEF helped organise a Children’s Convention on climate change with 6,000 participants from various schools, providing children with the opportunity to present their charter of demands on climate to the government. ​​

Girl drinking water


Climate resilient water resourcing

UNICEF is working with the Ethiopian Government on groundwater mapping to help identify the best most climate resilient water sources to use for drinking. The ‘More Water More Life’ project uses innovative satellite mapping technologies to increase the success of drinking water drilling from 50% to 90%.​

The widescale expansion, enhancement and solarisation of water and sanitation systems is a key UNICEF activity in Ethiopia, taking place across rural areas, IDP/Refugee camps, and areas affected by conflict. Solar power systems have already demonstrated benefits in carbon emission reductions, lower water tariff rates, and increased access to water ultimately building a more climate resilient environment.​

The lessons from Ethiopia are now being used for Angola, Kenya, and Somalia. ​

Influencing the UK Government to act

UNICEF UK continues efforts to create a better future for every child. We urgently need action that supports children in the UK and around the world to adapt, live and thrive in a changing climate. This year, UNICEF UK is taking our climate adaptation agenda to the global Climate Change Conference, COP28. We’re calling on the UK Government to: 

  1. Put children at the top of the world’s climate agenda by championing the need for a global Climate Action Plan for children and young people under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.
  2. Protect the most vulnerable children by increasing funding for resilient essential services such as healthcare and education  
  3. Champion a Global Goal on Adaptation that ensures a climate-safe world for children.  
  4. Centre children and youth voices in the decisions that shape their lives by formally including children and young people within the UK’s official delegation to COP28 and future COPs. 

Children are calling for action to protect them from climate change. Children are uniquely vulnerable and are already having to adapt to a climate-changed world. Discover how you can support their calls for action.

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