Climate Change Education weblog
International blog for teachers dealing with Climate Change education. It’s part of the Teacherscop15.dk site. Denmark is hosting the UN Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen, Dec. 2009. Comments are very welcome; moderated before publishing.
by Anders Raun
By Emily Polack, Research Officer, Climate Change and Development Centre at the Institute of Development Studies, UK
Children make up around a 1/3 of the world’s population. Yet a group of young journalists attending the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen believe their voices are still unheard. Around the Bella Centre, youth delegations have been vocal, while the voices of under 18 year olds has been largely absent.
On the first day of the COP15, UNFCCC Executive Secretary Yvo de Boer began his opening address by quoting a six-year old boy speaking on his experiences and the tragic loss of his parents after a devastating cyclone in Burma. He called the world to action: “Excellencies, Ministers, ladies and gentlemen: it is repetitions of this that the world is here to prevent.” Since then however, references to particularly vulnerable groups of people, including children have been removed from the draft texts for the post 2012 framework. Children in a Changing Climate (CCC) is a coalition of leading research and practice organisations seeking to give children a voice in climate change debates from their communities to the UN. I work at the Institute of Development Studies in the UK, which leads the CCC-research programme, building the evidence base for more attention from policy makers to the voices of children.
CCC is drawing on the experiences of its partners in child-centred projects to reduce risks to disasters. With climate change exacerbating conditions of poverty in the majority world, and increasing risks from disasters, including children in climate change adaptation interventions is the only way that responses to climate change will be effective.
At a ‘classroom style’ CCC Side Event at the Bella Centre this morning the panellists gave lessons on why and how children’s capacities and rights must have greater visibility in international and national policies.
Children from Kenya, Indonesia and UK gave the audience some homework (Adobe pdf file) to push governments and NGOs to work with children to tackle climate change together.
Quotes from the young participants:
- “Children around the world are unrepresented and we feel our voices are not heard or considered by the leaders or governments. Given the opportunity, the education and the resources, we have the potential to make a difference and take control.” Beatrice, 13, from Kenya.
- “International conferences such as this are the place that governments and children can work in unity.” Reina, 13, from Indonesia
- “As children we have rights under the Convention on the Rights of the Child, but we also have responsibilities. We in the West have more resources to adaptation climate change. But in developing countries people are physically and mentally exhausted by the conditions they face, and they don’t have the resources to adapt. We need to make sure there is enough finance for adaptation there.” Leon, 17, from UK.
The links between climate change and human rights have been established over the past two years, and even featured in versions of the draft text for a post Kyoto agreement, and the African submission at the weekend also contained rights language. Today the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food issued a statement on the need for climate policies to be deeply rooted in a human rights regime to ‘guarantee minimized impacts upon the most vulnerable’. However, the chances of inclusion of a rights perspective in the final text are currently uncertain.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child is perhaps the most pertinent, given the threats climate change poses to safeguarding the child rights and delivering intergenerational equity. It is clear that promoting the rights of the child to protection and safety, participation, survival and development is the only way to ensure climate change decision-making is made in the best interests of the child. These dimensions are all included in the Convention.
From my research in Kenya and Cambodia, it is clear that children are all too aware of the links between the impacts of climate change on their families’ livelihoods, their safety and their access to education. They face however many limitations to taking action. Child-led risk reduction can help different actors from local to national and international level to reduce barriers to children’s ability to claim their rights.
A new report for the Children in a Changing Climate Coalition Children and Disaster Risk Reduction: Taking stock and moving forward (Adobe pdf file) presents 16 case studies of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) involving children. These case studies sit along a continuum of child involvement from building children's knowledge to child-led action reflecting different scales of child leadership. The report proposes that concerted effort is now required to enable child-led DRR to transform policies.
As millions of children’s futures hang in the balance as the outcome of the COP15 negotiations remain uncertain, it is critical that spaces for children to be given a voice and be respected as powerful actors are created and sustained throughout climate change debates and decision-making, from this week on.
The Children in a Changing Climate coalition includes IDS alongside agencies including Plan International, Save the Children, UNICEF, World Vision, Interclimate and the UK National Children's Bureau.
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Listen to an interview with Beatrice from Kenya
Download Children and Disaster Risk Reduction: Taking stock and moving forward (pdf)
Download IDS Briefing Series: Rights, Needs and Capacities of Children in a Changing Climate
Meet the young journalists with Plan International and read their reports from COP15