Children's Day 2022: Worldwide almost 1 billion children, almost half of the world’s children, reside in extremely high risk countries, according to UNICEF’s The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index, 2021.
Children's Day 2022: Child climate activists like 11-year-old Licypriya Kangujam from India at COP27 call upon global leader to act now to save our planet and our future.
Using the pavilion in the strategically located blue zone at the ongoing COP27 in Egypt, youth and children are raising their voices for climate justice. COP27 or the 27th edition of the Conference of Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) started on 6 November and runs till 18 November.
Talking to this reporter on the occasion of Children’s Day, 14 November, Indian child climate activist Licypriya Kangujam, 11, who is participating in COP27, says, “Fighting climate change means fighting for our safe future. It’s all about inspiring each other to save our planet and our future.” Like celebrated global climate activist Greta Thunberg, who has set up Fridays for Future for children who miss schools on Fridays to demand climate action, Kangujam, has also founded The Child Movement or Bachpan Andolan.
Kangujam adds, “I am at COP27 to tell the world leaders to deliver concrete climate action on loss and damage caused by climate crises to the global south. We want climate justice now. Act now to save our planet and our future.”
Recognising the vulnerability of children and to cushion their future, the United Nations recently launched The Guiding Principles for Children on the Move in the Context of Climate Change to cater to the needs of children impacted by climate change. The principles are founded on the Convention on the Rights of the Child and were developed with inputs from young climate and migration activists, experts, policymakers and UN agencies.
Worldwide almost 1 billion children, almost half of the world’s children, reside in extremely high risk countries, according to UNICEF’s The Climate Crisis Is a Child Rights Crisis: Introducing the Children’s Climate Risk Index, 2021. The Index ranks India at 26.
The magnitude of the impact of the climate crisis can be gauged by the fact that 820 million children are affected by heatwaves, 400 million children by cyclones and 920 million children by water scarcity, according to the UNICEF report. Since a lifetime ahead awaits children, the ill impacts of climate change “can result in a lifetime of lost opportunity’’. Physical and psychological vulnerability also make children vulnerable to climate hazards.
UNICEF in its report suggests that the long term solution for crisis is in lowering emissions, but the crisis will take decades to turnaround and for the present generation of children it is equivalent to missing the bus. Only an analysis of climate risks and children’s vulnerability will enhance the coping capacity of 4.2 billion children born over the next 30 years.
Radha Chellappa, Deputy Director, Poverty, Inclusion and Climate Change, Save the Children says, “Marginalised children due to their vulnerability face greater impact of climate change despite not contributing to the cause. Children, both rural and urban communities, need to be provided with right knowledge, mentorship and guidance so that they can identify local issues related to climate change and how it affects their health, nutrition, learning, protection and livelihood outcomes and possible solutions.”
Chellappa adds , “Local climate change adaptation programmes compressively developed in consultation with communities and children, which take into consideration their needs and opportunities, would go a long way in building resilience among children and communities from shocks and stresses, and from undertaking negative coping mechanisms.”
Climate education for children is one way forward. Kangujam says, “I want our leaders to make climate education mandatory in every school curriculum to fight climate change from the grassroots.”
Eco-comics is emerging as an innovative medium of climate action. Megan Herbert, award winning author of the first ever carbon neutral book on climate change for children, The Tantrum That Saved the World, says, “Art in general has enormous power to change hearts and minds. Laughter is a great way to approach difficult topics because it can be used as a way to point out the absurd. Comics and cartoons can be used to allow people to see the absurdity of the situation rather than feel personally attacked. As, a tool this can be effective to communicate about climate change to children and adults alike.”
Of course, the ubiquitous Internet has an all pervading use. It is already put to good use by Gen Z climate activists themselves to raise their voices against anti-environment actions. Kangujam says, “We’re fixing accountability of our leaders through our voices and social media. Each and every child living in this country, living in this world, is already a victim of climate change. Instead of spending billions of dollars in wars, if we spend it on ending poverty, giving education and fighting climate change, the earth would become a great place.”