Climate change is endangering children and threatening their futures
Climate change threatens children’s most basic rights: to health, food, water, clean air, education and protection.
This isn’t a problem of the future, it’s a problem now.
Globally, drought and flooding are becoming more common and rising sea levels are impacting communities. Already, increasing numbers of extreme weather events are threatening children’s lives and destroying the clinics and schools that provide their healthcare and education. Every year, environmental risks take the lives of 1.7 million children under five.
600 million children – one in four worldwide – will be living in areas with extremely limited water resources by 2040
Protecting and empowering children in the face of climate change
Solving these problems is central to Unicef’s mission to realise the rights of every child – especially the most vulnerable. We respond rapidly to natural disasters, providing children with the care, supplies and protection that could save their lives. We are committed to providing a safe environment for every child to grow up in.
But children deserve more than protection – they need to be empowered to become the agents of future change. That’s why we’re providing communities with the tools to be more resilient to the effects of climate change, increasing their access to green technologies and promoting the use of sustainable energy.
3 ways unicef
is building climate change resilience and promoting sustainability
Living on the Barotse floodplain in Zambia uniquely challenging for children, particularly with new uncertainties caused by climate change. Children can often be seen using canoes to paddle to schools that used to have to close for months during the flood season.
With help from Unicef, Malabo Primary School, originally built with mud walls and floor, has been completely rebuilt on an elevated bank. Now even in the height of flood season, it remains open.
School enrolment has jumped by 50%. Not only is the school itself now more resistant to the effects of climate change, the children and the surrounding community will also benefit from the empowerment of a better education.
In Cuba, Unicef is helping to incorporate disaster risk reduction into its school curriculum. So that children can lead the way in creating a society that is rooted in preparedness and resilience.
Cuba is at permanent risk of natural hazards such as hurricanes, earthquakes and droughts, and is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. The curriculum includes both practical and theoretical knowledge of how to reduce the risk of disasters at all age levels.
A variety of learning methods are used from performing arts to physics problems based on extreme weather events. This means that children of all ages and abilities are able to take part and benefit.
Yesaya’s life has changed for the better after a solar-powered water pump was installed near his school by UNICEF Malawi. He spends less time collecting water, and can attend school more regularly.
Countries like Malawi have a heavy dependence on natural resources and rains. This means they are particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Access to clean water becomes crucial for survival in the dry season.
Solar-powered water pumps provide a reliable, environmentally friendly source of vital clean water to communities, and allow them to build resilience to the future effects of climate change.
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Help us build a more sustainable future for children
Giving children a voice in the fight for their environment
Unicef fights to make sure that children’s rights and their voices are central to the discussions about climate and the environment. We’re based in 190 countries and use our unrivalled influence and expertise to make sure governments stick to the climate and environment goals they have set. And we help them to develop even more ambitious programmes that better protect children from the impacts of climate change and environmental degradation
Children deserve to have a say in their future, and we are fighting for their right to be heard, here and around the world. In the UK we’ve been campaigning for children’s right to breathe clean air, pressuring the government to reduce toxic air in the UK to legal levels recommended by the World Health Organisation. And in places like Zambia, child-led advocacy programme Unite4Climate is empowering 11- to 17-year-olds to become climate ambassadors.
Support Unicef and help us build a more sustainable future for children
By supporting Unicef you can help protect children from the effects of climate change, fight for their voices to be heard and build a sustainable future.
Find out more about climate change and Unicef's work
No Place To Call Home: Protecting children's rights when the changing climate forces them to flee