Source: Save The Children
Almost four in five children in disaster prone areas in the Asia Pacific region, interviewed for a new survey by five leading aid agencies, saw an increase in climate-related disasters over the last two years, heavily impacting the economic situation of their families. Children and youth are calling on their leaders to step up actions to tackle the climate crisis, including the strengthening of policies and plans to mitigate disaster risks.
The findings and the appeal are part of a report called Guardians of the Planet, released by five leading international aid agencies. This comes at a time when the world is grappling with the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. The report aims to empower children to share their own views on their unique experiences of climate crisis and disasters which prevent them from exercising their rights, and to form a sound basis for child-centred policies and recovery programming.
According to the report, for which nearly 10,000 children and youths across 12 countries in the Asia Pacific region were surveyed, almost every child in disaster-prone areas has experienced climate-related disaster risks in the past 12 months. Extreme weather events in Asia Pacific, such as floods, are linked to population displacements. Trends also point to the growing frequency, intensity and complexity of disasters.
The report’s key findings are:
- Seventy-Seven per cent of children and youths noticed an increase in climate-related disasters locally in the last two years and identified a decrease in economic opportunities as a consequence of climate change.
- Formal education is a primary way for children and youths to learn about climate crisis and DRR, followed by news and social media.
- Children and youths had identified themselves as the most vulnerable group during disasters, followed by the elderly, those with disabilities and pregnant women.
Some of the key recommendations include strengthening the educational curriculum so children will be more resilient, conducting inclusive Disaster Risk reduction activities, conserving the environment by planting more trees and saying no to plastics, and mitigating greenhouse gases.
“We can definitely stop climate change. There is nothing which youths cannot achieve. The local government should initiate efforts to manage industrial waste, conserve existing forests and prioritise trees plantation in the barren lands. The industries contributing to air pollution should not be allowed. There is a need for effective implementation of laws and policies that are already in place,” said 18-year-old Rajo.
The report calls on national governments, regional bodies and other stakeholders to keep children and youth at the heart of all Climate Change Adaptation policies. The protection of children and youth before, during and after emergencies should be prioritised, especially for girls who are especially vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. These younger generations should also be involved in policy-making at local, national and regional levels.
“Asia-Pacific is witnessing the devastating impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable communities and children. We need to also listen to children and youth who are experiencing the impact of climate change first hand. Children want to be heard. Together with them and our partners, we are working to ensure a green and resilient approach for a sustainable future, in tandem with COVID-19 recovery measures,” says Meimei Leung, Regional Humanitarian Emergency Affairs Director, Asia-Pacific, World Vision International.
Notes to editor:
The Guardians of the Planet, Asia-Pacific children and youths consultation report is a compilation of data collected, in both face-to-face and online approaches, from 12 countries and during the Asia Child Summit 2019. The 12 countries involved in the consultation were Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Mongolia, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines and the Solomon Islands. The five leading international aid agencies releasing the report include UNICEF, United Nations Major Group for Children and Youth, World Vision International, Plan International and Save the Children. The report’s findings will be used to formulate a children and youth stakeholder-group action statement to be presented to governments and regional bodies at the next Asia-Pacific Ministerial Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (APMCDRR).
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