Our Priorities

Despite China's many achievements over the last thirty years, new challenges are continually arising. Climate change is one of the most significant emerging threats to children. It threatens access to sustainable, safe water supplies, as well as to hygiene and sanitation services, for increasing numbers of children.

At the outset, managing existing water resources in China is a challenge:

  • China has only one quarter of the world average in water resources per person.
  • Naturally-occurring arsenic and fluoride contamination limits the use of existing water resources.
  • Natural disasters common in China, like droughts, floods and tsunamis, can all impair access to existing safe water supplies and sanitation services.


Climate change is linked to many natural disasters and extreme climatic conditions. Climate change therefore poses risks to the security of China's water supply and often makes safe water supply and sanitation solutions more costly.

These climate change-related effects cause disparities in access to water resources. These disparities are particularly acute with respect to vulnerable children, like those living in China's remote rural areas and in ethnic minority communities.

Reducing the negative effects of climate change on children

UNICEF works with the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Education, and other government partners to mitigate the impact of climate change on children.

We support initiatives to engage young people in climate change awareness-raising, including a summer camp that trains children as advocates on climate change and water scarcity issues. Participants in our 2009 summer camp also served as Climate Change Ambassadors in the Children's Climate Forum in Copenhagen.

We also collaborate on climate change education for children. We contribute to climate change curricula for schools, as well as to an online platform where children can access information about climate change and exchange views.

We assist with analysis of the impact of climate change on ground water supplies and sanitation services. Our studies form the basis of evidence-based advocacy for the development of technical standards, conservation efforts, and policy recommendations to strengthen China's institutional capacities and to introduce child-sensitive perspectives on adapting to and mitigating the effects of climate change.

We also contribute to initiatives and pilot programs to build capacity at the local level. We collaborate on community-based peer education training about climate change, and we are conducting workshops on the impact of climate change on drought-affected areas.

Making a difference

UNICEF's work to lessen the impact of climate change on children, and to ensure that all children have equal access to safe water supplies and sanitation, has ambitious goals. We strive to help increase capacity to develop and manage sustainable, safe water supplies and sanitation services in China's rural communities and schools, as well as to develop the laws and policies to ensure the sustainability of this programming.

We also aim to raise awareness among children who will grow into adults who adopt low-carbon lifestyles and act in environmentally-responsible ways.

You can help reduce the negative effects of climate change on children. Take action by finding out how you can reduce your own carbon footprint. Or find out how you can support UNICEF's work today.

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