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Children at risk from climate change

Tens of millions of children at risk from climate change – UNICEF

Wellington , 11 December 2009. – As world leaders prepare to negotiate a new climate change agreement in Copenhagen , the UN Children’s Fund is calling for the impact on children to remain uppermost in their discussions.

UNICEF NZ Advocacy Manager-International, Vicki Soanes, says that children are most likely to be affected by the impacts of climate change, such as through the increased incidence of natural disasters like floods and severe weather events, and consequent displacement and migration.

A UNICEF climate change report noted that many of the main killers of children, such as malaria, diarrhoea and under-nutrition, are highly sensitive to climactic conditions and are expected to worsen as a result of climate change.

“Food production could decline significantly by 2020, contributing to widespread child under-nutrition.

“With increasing temperatures, malaria is returning to places where it was once eradicated. For example, after 50 years of little incidence, malaria is being reported in the highlands of Kenya after subtle temperature increases. Malaria currently causes more than a million deaths each year, up to 80 per cent of which are among children under five.

“Unchecked, climate change will challenge progress made towards the implementation of the UN Millennium Development Goals and has now become an issue which reaches into all aspects of human security.”

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Ms Soanes says that it’s important that world leaders not only take account the impact of climate change on children, but they should also listen to children’s voices.

The more than 160 young people from 44 countries – including five Kiwis – who attended UNICEF’s Children’s Climate Forum in Copenhagen last week issued a strong declaration that outlined concrete actions to combat climate change. The declaration was handed to the president of COP15 to take to world leaders.

In the declaration, the children commit to personal changes in their own lives and demand that governments take actions to protect the world from the terrible effects of climate change.

Ms Soanes says the young people’s commitment to climate change does not end with the close of the Forum.

“Each of the delegates was officially named Climate Ambassadors, formalizing a commitment to continue to advocate for climate-friendly policies and practices over the next year.”


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