Our Climate is Our Children’s Future

The climate crisis is a child’s rights crisis at its core. Protecting the youngest children across the globe is integral to the climate crisis response.

The youngest children all over the world are being exposed to the impacts and stresses of extreme weather events and environmental hazards. Despite being the most vulnerable and most adversely affected, they possess the fewest resources to respond to and cope with climate change (Joining Forces Alliance, 2020).

The right to clean, safe and secure environments is foundational for all children not only to survive, but also to thrive and to live in dignity (United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, 2020). Therefore, the environmental and climate crises are a significant challenge to fulfilling the rights of all children. Environmental changes do not act in silos. Global environmental changes, such as climate change, land use change, biodiversity loss, and ocean acidification act together to affect health and livelihoods. The concern is the potential for negative, synergistic interactions on health (Whitmee et al., 2015), and we know that the greatest impact is on children’s growth and development, as well as the well-being of pregnant women and foetuses (WHO, 2019).

In August 2021, the world’s leading authority on climate science, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis, which stressed that ‘Climate change is widespread, rapid, and intensifying’, triggered by greenhouse gas emissions, and that its impacts are increasingly and globally catastrophic. The IPCC report indicates that by 2050, there will be huge adverse effects on billions of people across the world, if the current inadequate levels of climate change continue. This means that all young children will likely face multiple climate-health related threats during their lifetime.

Millions of children born in the last year will face, on average, 2-7 times more extreme weather events than their grandparents. This includes more frequent heatwaves, floods, droughts, crop failures and wildfires (Save the Children, 2021).

It is time to act urgently and build global awareness on the impact of climate change on the youngest children. Early childhood development (ECD) must be part of climate policy discussions, countries most responsible for greenhouse gas emissions need to be held accountable, and we must focus on supporting marginalised children and families most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Almost every child on earth, according to UNICEF (2021), is exposed to hazards related to climate change. These natural disasters have intensified child poverty and vulnerability and is directly causing migration and displacement due to extreme weather events (Save the Children, 2021).  This has been further exacerbated by overlapping crises of conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other emerging and re-emerging diseases.

Climate-related disasters wreak havoc on families and communities, increasing toxic stress among young children, which harms their brain development. The loss of livelihoods and increased food insecurity increases child malnutrition and impacts on caregivers’ abilities to keep their children in early childhood education or support their children’s healthcare.

Climate change can also indirectly heighten the risk of conflict by intensifying existing social, economic, and environmental factors, and countries are less able to cope with climate change because their capacity to adapt is reduced by conflict. Children living in conflict areas are extremely vulnerable to the climate crisis and often disregarded by climate action (ICRC, 2020). As rural communities face climate stress, families relocate to informal urban settlements, which increases children’s exposure to violence, abuse, and exploitation, including child labour, extreme poverty, and reduced access to critical health, education, and psychosocial support services.

When ranked by income, the richest half of nations are responsible for 86 percent of global CO2 emissions; the lower half, just 14 percent. The poorest countries, for only 0.5 percent (Ritchie, 2018). Yet it is the children from middle- and lower-income countries who shoulder the severest impacts of the changing climate and possess the least resources to respond to, and cope with, these impacts.

In October 2021, in a historic ruling on the harmful effects of climate change on children’s rights, the UN Child Rights Committee has found that a State party can be held responsible for the negative impact of its carbon emissions on the rights of children both within and outside its territory.

We must act now and put young children at the centre of climate change action, creating a platform to raise the voices of the youngest children on the issue and respond accordingly. This global call to action builds on the Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood’s 2019 Ha Noi Call to Action and the 2021 Asia-Pacific Regional Call to Action, which advocate for multi-sectoral approaches and partnerships to promote the safety and well-being of young children and their families against environmental and climate risk factors. They emphasize the need to look closely at the interconnecting impacts of unhealthy environments and climate change on the health, growth, wellbeing, development, and rights of young children.

Four priority actions
On behalf of young children around the world, in the lead up to the next five-year cycle of the Paris Agreement and the UN Climate Change Conference 2021 (COP26), we at The Early Childhood Development Action Network (ECDAN), Asia-Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC), UNICEF, and Save the Children, in collaboration with other global, regional, and national partners, call on the world leaders and delegates at COP26, governments, donors, multilaterals, the private sector, civil society, and other partners and stakeholders to place young children at the heart of the climate change discussions.

We ask for commitment and urgent action on the following four priorities:
We stand with the youngest children and urge for their voices to be heard. Their futures depend on our collective actions now. 
Our commitment
We commit to work together as change makers to support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, and related global, regional, national, and local frameworks to increase climate resilience and adaptation to protect young children and our future.

We will mobilise and create a platform to protect the rights of children and raise their voices on the indirect and direct impacts of climate change on their health, well-being, and development. Through early learning programs, we will support young children so they can be change agents to protect our planet for generations to come.
Join us! Early childhood development must be at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Urgent action is needed now to realise the rights of the youngest children and protect their future against the climate crisis that they will so unfairly have to face.

Organizations

Who have Joined the Call:
(Updated frequently)

Individuals

Who have Joined the Call:
(Updated frequently)
 
Andre See
Programme Officer
Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC)

Rosemary Olive Mbone Enie
TIES Head
The International Ecotourism Society (TIES) Rwanda

Michael Yellow Bird
Dean and Professor
University of Manitoba, Faculty of Social Work

Sajeda Bano
Trainer
Isra Foundation Schools

Manjusree Mitra
Team Leader
NETZ Bangladesh

Monisha Singh Diwan
International ECD Consultant
Asia Pacific Regional Network for Early Childhood (ARNEC)

RK Biswal
Assistant Professor
NIT Rourkela

Joe Waters
CEO
Capita

Liana Ghent
Director
International Step by Step Association (ISSA)

Ariel Le
Student
Georgetown University

Lucas Nieman
Student
Georgetown University

Grayson Parisee
Student
Georgetown University

Sofia Wills
Student
Georgetown University

Maria Lopez
Student
Georgetown University

Maya Snyder
Student
Georgetown University

Sarah Tyree
Student
Georgetown University

Mirka Sosa
Student
Georgetown University

Kuenhee Lee
Student
Georgetown University

Lucas Lin
Student
Georgetown University

Grayson Parisee
Student
Georgetown University

Mackie Wainstein
Student
Georgetown University

Alexa Fox
Student
Georgetown University

Zidao Wang
Student
Georgetown University

Justin Liu
Student
Georgetown University

Julia Cannamela
Student
Georgetown University

Jack Silverman
Student
Georgetown University

Emma Alexis
Student
Georgetown University

Isabel Schaffer
Student
Georgetown University

Ashley Nguyen
Student
Georgetown University

Brian Hong
Student
Georgetown University

Hannah Ajibola
Student
Georgetown University

Kevin Chanchavac
Student
Georgetown University

Nihal Nagesh
Student
Georgetown University

Mikhail Floresca
Student
Georgetown University

Allison Talty
Student
Georgetown University

Helen Rocker
Student
Georgetown University

Maggie Fan
Student
Georgetown University

Ileana Mendez
Center for Social Justice
Coordinator

Lennon Aragon
Student
American University


Merewalesi Nailatikau
Director
Bellatrix Consulting

Dominic Pham
Student
Georgetown University

Will Joyce
Student
Georgetown University

Chris Ha
Student
Georgetown University

Sophie Koritz
Student
Georgetown University

Golam Kibria
Head of Education
Educo

Advait Arun
Student
Georgetown University

Renu Hakim
Early Childhood Educator
USA

Dil Chhetri
Project Coordinator- Safe School
Save the Children

Angela Barbarulo
Climate Justice Coordinator
Alana Institute

Jimaima Lokoifale Quimivutia
Geospatial Student

University of the South Pacific

References

ICRC (2020). Seven Things You Need To Know About Climate Change And Conflict. Available at: https://www.icrc.org/en/document/climate-change-and-conflict

IPCC, (2021).  Climate Change 2021: The Physical Science Basis. Contribution of Working Group I to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Masson-Delmotte, V., P. Zhai, A. Pirani, S. L. Connors, C. Péan, S. Berger, N. Caud, Y. Chen, L. Goldfarb, M. I. Gomis, M. Huang, K. Leitzell, E. Lonnoy, J.B.R. Matthews, T. K. Maycock, T. Waterfield, O. Yelekçi, R. Yu and B. Zhou (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press.

Joining Forces Alliance – ChildFund International, Plan International, Save the Children, SOS Children’s Villages International, Terre des Hommes International Federation, & World Vision (2019). Child Rights Now! The Global Climate Crisis: A child rights crisis. Available at: https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/document/global-climate-crisis-child-rights-crisis

Ritchie, H. (2018). ‘Global inequalities in CO2 emissions’, Our World in Data. Available at https://ourworldindata.org/co2-byincome-region

Save the Children, (2021). Born into the Climate Crisis: Why we must act now to secure children’s rights. Available at: https://resourcecentre.savethechildren.net/library/born-climate-crisis-why-we-must-act-now-secure-childrens-rights?_ga=2.214013463.1453968004.1632748864-28292094.1628523669

UNICEF (2021), The Climate Crisis is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index. Available at: https://www.unicef.org/reports/climate-crisis-child-rights-crisis

United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (2020). Official Records of the General Assembly, forty-third session,Realizing the rights of the child through a healthy environment: ‘Report of the United Nations High Commisssioner for Human Rights’, (A/HRC/43/30).

Whitmee et al., (2015). Safeguarding human health in the Anthropocene epoch: report of The Rockefeller Foundation–Lancet Commission on planetary health. The Lancet 386.10007, 1973-2028.)
World Health Organization (2019) ‘Clean, safe and secure environments to support early childhood development’ WHO27 November 2019. Available at: https://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/child/Nurturing_environments_to_support_ECD-27.11.2019_Web.pdf?ua=1


May Ajram
Independent Consultant
Lebanon

Martha Llanos
Consultant
Peru

Srinibas Panigrahi
Bachelor in Technology
NIT Rourkela

Mousisi Herbert David
Lecturer
Nsamizi Training Institute for Social Development

Susan Snyder
Consultant
USA

Seng Raw
Program Director
Pann Pyoe Lett Foundation

Michael Ntanda
Country Director
REPSSI Uganda

Iris Duhn
Associate Professor
Monash University

Bonnie Neugebauer
Global Impact Engineer
World Forum Foundation

Roger Neugebauer
Global Impact Engineer
World Forum Foundation

Mungunkhishig Batbaatar
KM Consultant
UNICEF EAPRO

Aparna Sen
Teacher
Oxford Public School

Camila Guerrero
Student
Georgetown University

Savannah Smith
Student
Georgetown University

Ursula Gately
Student
Georgetown University

Sheri Hill
Early Childhood Infant Mental Health Policy & Program Consultant & Trainer
SHERI L HILL PHD LLC

Kodili Agwu
Student
Georgetown University

Lin Henke
Student
Georgetown University

Peck Gee Chua
Regional Early Childhood Development Consultant
UNICEF EAPRO

Tithi Ojha
Student
NIT Rourkela

Simonee Mulamata
Country Representative
REPSSI

Vibha Sharma
Director
Early Risers

Cheene Bitas
Teacher
Oro Christian Grace School

Belpatri Yogi
Lecturer
Tribhuvan University

Dr. Ghassan Issa
General Coordinator
ARC/ANECD

Bianca Abeygoonawardane
Child Protection Expert
Freelance 

Kathleen Keisha Constantino
Lecturer
Department of Family Life & Child Development, University of the Philippines

Ma. Luz Ferraren
Senior Education Program Specialist
Department of Education- Central Office

Sabrina Begum
ECD Head
Al-Amyn Model School

Glynne Christine Del Rosaria
Student
UMBC

Patrin Watanatada
Independent
United Kingdom

Saraswoti Giri Bharati
Lecturer
Tribhuvan University

Nicole Ngeow
Director
Prudence Foundation

Uma Ghimire
Parenting Education Consultant
UNICEF Nepal

Lolo Rasaqiwa
Teacher
Harmony

Marg Rogers
Lecturer, Early Childhood Education
University of New England

Suruchi Chauhan
Academic Coordinator
Delhi Public School Siddharth Vihar

Annelise Scudder
Strategic Partnerships
Mozilla

Trinath Kabir Chandra
News Contributor
Awaz Odisha


Satya Heidrich-Amin
Student
Georgetown 

Yiki Cui
Student
Georgetown University

Cayden Olsrud
Student
Georgetown University

Akshay Bahl
Student
Georgetown University

Andrea Gasca
Student
Georgetown University

Kyungah Bang
Programme Officer

UNESCO Bangkok

Claire Warden
International Consultant in Nature Pedagogy
Mindstretchers Academy

Pegoty Ngeno
Assistant Lecturer
Moi University


Lara Daher
Consultant
UNESCO

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