The world is home to 2.3 billion children, with 29.3% of the world population under 18 years old and 1.8 billion young people aged 10 to 24 years old* - the largest generation in history. A significant number of these children and youth live in areas vulnerable to climate impacts, with for instance half a billion children living in extremely high flood occurrence zones and nearly 160 million children living in areas experiencing high or extremely high drought severity. For many of these children and youth, climate vulnerabilities are combined with issues such as conflict, extreme poverty and lack of access to basic services such as sanitation and safe water.
In parallel, there is a growing awareness that the adverse impacts of climate change increasingly contribute directly and indirectly to temporary and permanent migration and displacement, within countries and across borders. Migration in the context of climate change is often a multi-causal phenomenon, with multiple drivers intersecting to shape the decision to migration. For this reason, it is difficult to estimate the number of people on the move due to climate impacts, including children.
However, it is clear that children and youth are heavily concerned by migration dynamics, with one out every 8 migrants a child. In addition, past migrations are generating a deep demographic transformation—with the children of immigrants representing the fastest growing segment within child and youth population in a number of high and middle-income countries across the world. The children, climate and migration nexus remain underexplored, however it is already clear that climate impacts add new layers of vulnerability to a large number of children and young people living and migrating in difficult conditions.
Children and young people are least responsible for climate change, and yet are among the most vulnerable to its effects. Today’s children and young people are feeling the effects of environmental change and today`s leaders must design policies aimed at minimising its impact on future generations and propose aspirational alternatives.
To better understand how children and young people are affected by climate-related migration and displacement and enhance their visibility, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) jointly hosted a virtual symposium on 3 and 4 November 2020.
The symposium provided a platform for experts, policy makers and young people to discuss pertinent questions related to the climate-migration/displacement nexus, to unpack key concepts and terms related to climate migration and displacement, and to propose a set of actions, outlining a future agenda for integrating children’s needs and rights into evolving policy discussions and future legal frameworks.
Read the first reflections on the 'Climate Mobility and Children' symposium.
Read the Background Papers:
*IOM “Searching for clarity: Defining and mapping youth migration” -There is no single accepted definition of “youth” or “young people” in research or policymaking. Some define young people in reference to an age range, but they do not use consistent boundaries for the ranges adopted. For example, in initiatives by the European Union young people may range from 13 to 30 years of age (European Commission, 2011). The UN and Global Migration Group define youth as any individual aged from 15 to 24 (Global Migration Group, 2014). Other international organizations make reference to young people being aged between 10 and 24 years (UNFPA, 2014; WHO, 2019).
** Source IDMC: Global estimate of the number of young people of different age groups and sex living in internal displacement associated with conflict, violence and disasters at the end of 2019