There may be no greater, growing threat facing the world’s children than climate change.
In every crisis, children are the most vulnerable. Climate change is no exception.
This mounting global crisis has the potential to undermine many of the gains we have made in child survival and development, and our partners in the Pacific have already determined climate change to be the biggest threat to children and their families.
Climate change is, at its core, an equity issue. Despite being least responsible for climate change, it is today’s children and future generations that will bear the consequences of our inaction.
Climate change disproportionately affects those living in developing countries.
As our planet warms, damaging weather events such as cyclones, floods, droughts and heatwaves will occur more frequently and with greater intensity. These events can cause widespread destruction as well as wiping out entire crops.
Most families living in developing countries depend on the environment for their livelihood. The impacts of climate change will mean increased crop failures, loss of livestock, dwindling fisheries as well as damage to soil and biodiversity, essential for food production.
Longer and more intense droughts, evaporation of existing water sources because of higher temperatures, and changes to rainfall patterns will all result in reduced access to clean and safe drinking water in developing countries.
As temperatures climb, mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria and dengue fever may increase as the insects extend their range to new, warmer locations. Reduced access to clean water will mean families must drink from unsafe sources, risking illness from water-borne diseases.
When Tropical Cyclone Winston hit Fiji on February 20th 2016, 53 people lost their lives. In places like Kiribati, a whole generation of children are being forced to consider what happens in their future when the sea levels continue to rise.
More and more, climate change is a global problem. But right now, our neighbours in the Pacific are being hit the hardest.
Bangladesh is one of the most climate vulnerable countries on our planet. Between flooding, tropical cyclones, storm surges, food shortages and drought, children are living in a severe and harsh environment.
In places like Bogra, Bangladesh, students frequently go to school via floodwaters. With a changing climate, the flooding is only going to get worse.
Hundreds of thousands of children were suffering from malnutrition in South Sudan where famine was declared earlier this year, and millions more continue to face hunger every day.
The country is facing a critical food security crisis, with an estimated 31% of the population not knowing where their next meal will come from. Malnourishment and famine are a direct result of climate change driven drought and poverty.
Children will continue to suffer unless we take action. Between extreme droughts, superstorms, wildfires, floods, the most vulnerable children of our world who will suffer most of all.
Talk about it. Government policy is the single most important influence over climate change regulation. You can talk to your local MPs, lobby government, sign petitions, and use social media to help move public opinion.
Donate to help children in countries like Kiribati and Vanuatu access clean water and sanitation in times of change and distress. Even the smallest of donations can make a big difference.
Reduce our carbon pollution. Right now, we’re on track to see global temperatures rise by up to 4°C by the end of the century. We must shift to a clean energy economy to build a sustainable future for all. You can help by leading by example.
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Read the stories of how UNICEF is on the ground, helping families affected by cyclones, droughts, food insecurity and water shortages.
UNICEF NZ helps save and protect the world's most vulnerable children