Climate change is here and disproportionately impacting children's present and future.
UNICEF's new report recommends nine principles to protect the rights and wellbeing of children on the move in the face of climate change. https://t.co/zP1yKb2BaT
— UNICEF (@UNICEF) July 25, 2022
They were launched by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and the United Nations University (UNU), located in Tokyo, Japan.
Safeguarding future generations
The partners explained that currently, most child-related migration policies do not consider climate and environmental factors, while most climate change policies overlook the unique needs of children.
“The climate emergency has and will continue to have profound implications for human mobility. Its impacts will be most severe with particular segments of our communities such as children; we cannot endanger future generations,” said António Vitorino, the IOM Director General.
He added that although migrant children are particularly vulnerable when moving in the context of climate change, their needs and aspirations are still overlooked in policy debates.
“With these guiding principles we aim to ensure visibility to their needs and rights, both in policy debates and programming. Managing migration and addressing displacement of children in the context of climate change, environmental degradation and disasters, is an immense challenge that we must address now.”
Young lives at risk
Climate change is intersecting with existing environmental, social, political, economic and demographic conditions that are contributing to people’s decisions to move.
Nearly 10 million children were displaced following weather-related shocks in 2020 alone. Additionally, nearly half of the world’s 2.2 billion children, or roughly one billion boys and girls, live in 33 countries at high risk of the impacts of climate change.
The partners warn that millions more children could be forced to move in the coming years.
“Every day, rising sea levels, hurricanes, wildfires, and failing crops are pushing more and more children and families from their homes,” said Catherine Russell, the UNICEF Executive Director.
“Displaced children are at greater risk of abuse, trafficking, and exploitation. They are more likely to lose access to education and healthcare. And they are frequently forced into early marriage and child labour.”