World leaders’ Earth Day summit must ‘hear what children have to say’

As the world today – 22 April 2021 – marks Earth Day, there is a stark warning from the Save the Children charity that drastic action is needed to ensure children and their families can cope with current and future climate disaster.

It estimates that around 710 million children live in the 45 countries that are at the highest risk of suffering the impact of climate change, and that floods, droughts, hurricanes and other extreme weather events will have an ‘especially deep impact’ on vulnerable children and their families.

Children in these countries will for example be impacted by food shortages, diseases and water scarcity are among the major threats to children, along with the dangers posed to their very homes – where they have one – by rising water levels.

Save the Children shows says that hundreds of millions of children under the age of 18 are living in regions where climate change is deeply affecting their lives. The impact of the crisis on food production, it adds, is likely to lead to local food scarcity and price hikes, with devastating impacts on the poorest households.

It concludes that ‘drastic action’ must be taken to ensure children and their families will be able to cope with current and future climate-shocks.

US President Joe Biden is today – Earth Day – holding an online summit of world leaders in which climate change will be the business of the day, and Save the Children has urged the President and fellow world leaders taking part to make sure they hear what children, especially the most marginalised and deprived, have to say.

The charity says that ‘the window to prevent catastrophic climate change is rapidly closing’, as the crisis is set to worsen unless urgent action is taken now. The future of today’s and future children are ‘at stake, and not only must they be heard in the in the climate crisis–conversation but also involved in shaping policies.

Earth Day was first held in 1970, and its mission is to diversify, educate and activate the environmental movement worldwide. It works with more than 75,000 partners in over 192 countries to drive positive action for our planet. Everyone is urged to do their bit, however small, whether it’s being part of a local clean-up event, or even just turning off your lights at home for the evening. A YouthSpeaks event has already been held, and there is today a multi-hour live digital event.

Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International, said: “The climate crisis is the largest threat to children and the realisation of their rights across borders and generations. The COVID-19 outbreak has already pushed millions of children and families into poverty and increased hunger and malnutrition. But flooding, hurricanes and droughts are also causing children to be malnourished.

“Children have contributed the least to the crisis we are facing, but will pay the highest price. We have seen the power of children, leading the way on climate change through a truly global movement. But much more must be done – children need to be listened to and governments take action on what children tell them. Governments need to set up child-friendly mechanisms and platforms on- and off-line to include children’s recommendations in climate policies, including the most vulnerable children.”

Author: Simon Weedy

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