Climate change arguably poses the single greatest challenge to the realisation of children’s rights, and threatens to undercut decades of hard-won progress to improve their lives.
Despite being least responsible for this unfolding crisis, children bear the brunt of the climate-related impacts, while possessing the fewest resources to respond and cope. At its core, climate change represents a shocking abdication of one generation’s responsibility to the next, violating principles of intergenerational equity. Drought, flooding, extreme weather events, rising temperatures, and desertification directly undermine a broad spectrum of children’s rights, from access to food and safe water, to housing, education, freedom from exploitation, violence and abuse, and – too frequently – their right to survive and thrive. Moreover, because resilience to climate change is shaped by broader socio-economic factors, such as gender inequality and poverty, the situation is particularly fraught for marginalised girls and other highly-vulnerable groups of children, compounding the multiple hardships that they face.