UN talks seek urgent solutions for children bearing brunt of climate crisis

By Amanda Morrow with RFI

Amid warnings of the disproportionate climate impacts faced by the world's children, and particularly by girls, UN climate talks in Germany will on Tuesday host a day of “expert dialogue” aimed at offering solutions to reverse the injustice.   

The event, taking place in Bonn, comes as analysis published this week by the Save the Children charity shows the number of children experiencing crisis levels of hunger due to extreme weather has doubled over the past five years. 

The latest data indicates a 20 percent rise in "crisis" phase hunger in 2023 alone – bringing to 33 million the number of children affected. 

That number was 13 million in 2018. 
According to Save the Children, those impacted live in 18 countries where climate events such as droughts, cyclones and floods are the primary drivers of food insecurity. 

'Child rights crisis'

"At its heart, the climate crisis is a child rights crisis," said Jack Wakefield, the charity's global policy lead for climate change.

"Children are at huge risk, despite being the least responsible for soaring global emissions."  

Inadequate food supplies puts children at high risk of acute malnutrition, which can cause stunting, increase their susceptibility to diseases, and impact their mental and physical development. 

Malnutrition remains one of the biggest killers of children under five around the world. 

Hunger aside, climate events themselves also affect children, warned Save the Children spokeswoman Emily Wight. 

“Extreme heatwaves in recent weeks has led to the closure of schools in many countries, while terrible floods have displaced many children,” Wight said. 

Girls worst affected

Meanwhile food crises can also push families to pull their children out of school to work or push them into early marriages, Save the Children said – adding that girls were more likely to be made to secure food for their household, or to go without food so that boys could eat.   

"All of this creates very dangerous situations for children," Wight added. 

Only 2.4 percent of existing funding from major global climate funds is directed at projects that meet the needs of children – something the expert dialogue in Bonn is seeking to help correct. 

"No child should have to go to school on an empty stomach," said Wakefield, emphasising the need for urgent action. 

"It's encouraging to see global climate negotiations dedicating space to discuss the terrible impacts of the climate crisis on children's rights and lives. 

"For the sake of the world's 2.4 billion children, let's hope this builds momentum for putting children's needs and voices at the centre of the global response to climate change." 

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Started: 02-07-2024 | Ends: 31-10-2024