Climate Change and Children in Vietnam

“Let’s keep our planet beautiful“- Le Chi Cuong, 12 years, from Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Written by: Madhu Parthasarathi, Gifts in Wills, Manager.

Climate change is a direct threat to a child’s ability to survive, grow and thrive. This World Environment Day, we’re highlighting the effects of climate change on children around the world, and the solutions we’re putting in place. UNICEF UK works with partners at the global and local level to ensure children live in a safe and clean environment.

Children are the least responsible for climate change, but the most affected by it. This is the first time a global generation of children are growing up in a world made far more dangerous and uncertain by a changing climate and damaged environment.


Climate action provides an exceptional opportunity to unlock massive economic and social benefits that can help us achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Addressing the challenges of environmental sustainability is imperative for UNICEF to fulfil its mandate and protect the world’s most vulnerable children.

Our actions are structured around four approaches:

  • Making children the centre of climate change strategies and response plans: UNICEF works with governments and partners globally to ensure children are an essential part of climate change strategies and disaster response plans.
  • Recognizing children as agents of change: UNICEF works with young people to elevate their voices on climate change through creative platforms, advocacy and participation at major United Nations summits.
  • Protecting children from the impact of climate change and environmental degradation: UNICEF supports initiatives to make schools, health centres, water and sanitation facilities – and other services critical to children’s well-being – resistant to climate and environmental shocks. This not only improves children’s resilience to future shocks but also makes it less likely that today’s inequities will be exacerbated by climate change.
  • Reducing emissions and pollution: UNICEF works to improve air pollution monitoring and advocacy, especially in countries and regions where these systems are sparse or non-existent. A big part of our work is also to support governments to respond to the increased incidence of pneumonia and other respiratory diseases that arise as a consequence of air pollution.


Extreme climate risks such as flash floods, landslides, typhoons, and droughts are becoming more common, and more intense, in Vietnam. These impacts, combined with the harmful effects of increasingly erratic rainfall and higher temperatures, are seriously threatening the lives and well-being of children in the country. In the past 50 years, the average temperature in the country has risen by approximately 0.5°C and sea levels have risen by around 20cm. In the wake of disasters that destroy their homes and livelihoods, climate-driven migration is increasing, raising the risk of child exploitation and trafficking, particularly for girls.


UNICEF is protecting and empowering children in Vietnam in the face of climate change. We’re ensuring decision-makers are aware of the urgent issues children face. And we’re boosting their participation in national policy and legal reforms.

Through discussions with children from highly vulnerable provinces, we gained a deeper understanding of children’s experiences of climate change. We heard their views on how we can reduce the impacts of climate-related disasters. As a direct result of this, Vietnam’s Law on Environmental Protection, approved in 2014, incorporates a child rights approach.

We work with children like Le Chi Cuong, 12, from Ho Chi Minh City, to understand and highlight children’s unique perspectives on climate action, empowering them to take action and identify solutions to protect themselves and their peers.

One morning, after waking up, I saw a downpour. I started to look around but I did not see my parents… and saw the flood  coming to the foot of the stairs. My parents and grandparents were collecting furniture and putting it all into a higher place… The houses around were also flooded…Everyone was sad.

I realised that rubbish was one of the factors causing floods because it blocked the drainage system and there was stagnant water everywhere… Let’s protect our environment, let’s reduce greenhouse gases and keep our planet beautiful.” – Le Chi Cuong


UNICEF works with children first hand to come up with sustainable climate solutions in Vietnam. We consulted with nearly 200 children from three selected provinces on their experience and empowered them with new knowledge and skills on climate and disaster risks.  Through this we were able to achieve the following results:

  • Vietnam’s revised Law on Environmental Protection, approved in 2014, now provides for climate change policies and actions that respect the best interests of the child and gender equality. This legal framework will benefit the country’s 25 million children. Policy coherence between Vietnam’s environmental commitments, and those ratified under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, has been significantly strengthened.
  • Local authorities committed to further build the resilience of children against climate change, as an important component in wider strategies to tackle climate change and its impacts.
  • Increased recognition among national and sub-national decision-makers of the important role of civil society in facilitating consultation with vulnerable groups, such as children.

We continue to bring children to the forefront of the climate solution in Vietnam and around the world. UNICEF Vietnam celebrated World Children’s Day on 20th November 2020 with children celebrating coming together to raise awareness on this year’s theme: “Reimagine a greener and cleaner Vietnam for every child”. We believe that bringing children’s voices into conversations around climate change helps us to create sustainable environmental policies.

We believe that by removing artificial barriers to childhood, we can empower children which will give them a chance to change their world. These long-term projects are made possible through gifts in wills which helps us build sustainable solutions for the future.

Madhu Parthasarathi works as part of the Gifts in Wills Team at UNICEF UK. Every year, UNICEF does more good for more children, in more places, than any other organisation. We believe every child has the power to change the world.

Our goal is to empower future generations of children by supporting long-term development. If you feel inspired to support UNICEF UK with a gift in your Will, please request your copy of our Gifts in Wills Guide  to join the UNICEF community.

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