Protecting Children on the Move in the Context of Climate Change
17 Nov 2022, 17:30pm
At COP27 at Climate Mobility Pavilion
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Sixth Assessment Report, climate change is already affecting weather and climate extremes in every world region. From increasing storms, wildfires, floods and heat waves to the longer-term effects of sea level rise and drought, climate change is altering the world’s ecosystems, affecting livelihoods and contributing to people’s need or desire to move. However, climate change is not the only factor shaping people’s mobility; instead, the effects – or anticipated effects – of climate change interact with existing environmental, social, political, economic and demographic conditions and shape people’s ability to move, their choice of destination, and their access rights and resources before, during and after their movement.
The impact of climate and environmental change intersects with demographic trends, in particular the growing number of children in places highly susceptible to climate change. In August 2021, UNICEF reported that one billion children – nearly half of the world’s 2.2 billion children – live in 33 countries classified as at extremely high risk to the impacts of climate change. Globally, around 500 million children live in areas with very high risk of flooding and nearly 160 million live in areas of extreme or high risk of drought.
Continents most vulnerable to climate impacts are hosting the highest proportions of children and youth migrants. For example, according to the State of the Climate Report in Africa 2021 (WMO), highlights that “climate-related hazards continued to be a major driver of new displacement in Africa (...) With relative sea-level rise likely to continue in the future, contributing to an increase in the frequency and severity of coastal flooding in low-lying cities and an increase in the salinity of groundwater due to sea-water intrusion. By 2030, 108–116 million people in Africa are expected to be exposed to sea-level rise risk.” And the African continent is home today to more young people than ever before, a number that is expected to double by 2050: they will be the generation most impacted by the climate change. This underscores the need for anticipatory action to prepare for and manage climate-related migration so that children and youth are not impacted negatively. As climate change impacts are amplifying migration, including the movement of children, it is of paramount importance to ensure that children’s needs are not compromised, delayed or missed. Failing to uphold the rights of children moving in the context of climate change could have significant consequences for an entire generation.
The Guiding Principles for Children on the Move in the Context of Climate Change is the first-ever global policy framework that aims to help protect, include, and empower children/youth on the move in the context of climate change. The Guiding Principles were developed precisely because there was no global policy framework for addressing the needs and rights of children moving in the context of climate change. Where child-related migration policies do exist, they do not consider climate and environmental factors, and where climate change policies exist, they usually overlook children’s need. The Guiding Principles are intended to be used by local and national governments, international organizations and civil society groups working with children on the move in the context of climate change.
Moderator: Ms Ileana Sinziana Puscas, Programme Officer on Migration, Environment and Climate Change, IOM
- Ms Nada Ghanem, Child Protection Officer, Programme Section, UNICEF Egypt
- Mr Atle Solberg, Head of the. Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD)
- Ms Rose Kobusinge, Youth Advocate on Climate Change and Migration
- Ms. Nakeeyat Dramani Sam, Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF) Thematic Ambassador for Youth
- Ms Ailín Benítez Cortés – Program Officer, Climate Vulnerable Forum (CVF)
- Ms Nsah Juli-Collette, Regional Policy and Advocacy Specialist, Plan in West and Central Africa at Plan International