The Copenhagen Summit in December marked an important step in mitigating the negative effects of climate change. It also brought to light the greater need to focus on how climate change has been affecting children. UNICEF UK recognized this gap and in a recent report entitled, “Our climate, our children, our responsibility”. UNICEF not only outlines the risk of climate change to our most vulnerable population, but discusses concrete and important ways these risks can be mitigated by companies, adults, and children themselves.
In the past two installments of the children and climate change series, the dangers of climate change were discussed especially with regards to forced migration. Disease, the breakdown of the family roles, and the loss of childhood were all explored in depth and the recognition that all the Convention on the Rights on the Child be upheld to its fullest. UNICEF UK takes us one step further by stressing the need for “engaging children as actors in the climate change agenda rather than treating them as passive observers or victims”. This means not only giving them the voice needed to express how climate change is affecting them, but giving them a voice to bring about meaningful change in the climate change agenda that is occurring now.
For its part, UNICEF has pledged to continue its Millennium Development Goals as well as to build on its ‘’water and sanitation programme [as well as] …providing mosquito nets… water, schools, health clinics, and support for rural communities whose livelihoods are becoming more challenging due to climate change’’. Including children in all aspects of these programs from education to implementation will mean children can move from victim to agent of change. Given the nature of climate change-that it will affect all- means all of us including children should play a part in mitigating the effects.