13 year old Panyagor But wades through flood water in the village of Panyagor in Twic East, Jonglei State in South Sudan.

Protecting children in
a changing climate

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Climate change is endangering and threatening children’s futures

Climate change seriously affects children’s access to health, food, water, clean air, and education, The growing number of extreme weather events globally is putting more children’s lives in danger. Every year, environmental factors take the lives of 1.7 million children under five.

These events mean a reduced chance of a happy, healthy future for so many children. When floods hit, schools and health clinics are destroyed. When droughts occur, children spend less time in school because they must walk miles to collect water. Rising sea levels and toxic air pollution turn children’s communities into hazardous environments to grow up in.

These aren’t issues that can wait and we are working tirelessly to help solve them right now.

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1 billion children are at extremely high risk to the impacts of climate change.

Protecting and empowering children in the face of climate change

Solving these issues is central to our mission to realise the rights of every child – especially the most at risk. We respond rapidly to natural disasters, ensuring children receive 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. With the right support they can be empowered to become agents of change who can shape their own future. That’s why we are ensuring communities have access to green technologies and why we are promoting the use of sustainable energy.

How we are

building climate change resilience and promoting sustainability

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Empowering young people in Vietnam

Air pollution levels are often significantly higher than the healthy levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). Over half of young people reported that they suffer from breathing difficulties and other health issues as a result.

To tackle the issue, we are working to empower young people to make changes within their communities, by teaching them about the impacts of air pollution, encouraging them to spread these messages and training them to develop their own solutions.

We have engaged over 100 young people, who have spread their messages to 4,500 other students. These young activists have started to design their own innovative solutions to these challenges.

Solar powered water system in Uganda

Collin’s life has changed for the better after a solar powered water system was installed at his school in Uganda by UNICEF. With access to safe drinking water, Collin says he no longer gets thirsty.

Uganda has a heavy dependence on natural resources and rains. This means the country is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Access to clean water becomes crucial for survival in the dry season.

Solar powered water systems provide a reliable, environmentally friendly source of vital clean water to schools, building resilience to the impacts of climate change.

Schools made from recycled plastic in Côte d'Ivoire

Millions of tons of plastic waste are thrown away each year, polluting our seas, land, and children’s playgrounds. To tackle this problem, we have helped to create a plastic recycling plan that is transforming plastic waste into sustainable building materials at low cost.

Hundreds of thousands of children do not have access to education, because there are not enough classrooms. The recycled plastic bricks are being used to construct classrooms, providing low-cost learning spaces for children.

This innovative solution to plastic waste pollution has helped to build hundreds of classrooms for thousands of children.

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Ensuring children are heard in the fight for their environment

Children everywhere have the right to have a say in their future and we’re fighting for their right to be heard. In the UK we’ve campaigned for children’s right to breathe clean air, lobbying the government to reduce toxic air levels. In Zambia, child-led advocacy programme Unite4Climate is empowering children to become climate ambassadors.

We fight to make sure children’s voices are central in high-level discussions about climate and the environment. We use our strong influence to work with governments in 190 countries striving to ensure that they stick to their climate and environment goals and help them to develop even more ambitious programmes that better protect children.

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.

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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

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Full report: Children and the changing climate

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