UNICEF and the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race advocate for Children and Environment
Qingdao, 16 March 2016 – The essential role of children in understanding and being a part of addressing climate change and creating a clean environment was explored today in an exciting encounter with the crew of a yacht that has travelled the world. In the countdown to World Water Day on the 22nd March, UNICEF has joined forces with the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race and the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology of Chinese Academy Sciences to highlight the importance of protecting our environment to reduce global warming.
At a forum entitled “Set Sail for Low Carbon Life”, held during the Qingdao stopover for the Clipper Race, the link between climate change, children and water was highlighted. The panel, which included famous Skipper of Guo Chuan Racing, UNICEF Clipper Race Skipper Martin Clough, UNICEF Specialist for Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Yang Zhenbo and Wang Jia from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology of Chinese Academy Sciences showcased how young people could be a catalyst for action on how to address environment challenges.
"Around the world we know that children often bear the brunt of droughts, floods, heatwaves and other severe weather conditions. Such events are putting children at an increased risk of disease and malnutrition, as well as destroying their families' homes and livelihoods,” said Rana Flowers, UNICEF China Representative. “We know that if we are to tackle global warming and achieve the vision set out in the Sustainable Development agenda 2030, we need to empower children and young people to be part of the solution. We need their ideas, creativity and action to inspire and drive how we protect our environment."
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), globally adopted by world leaders at the UN,outline an ambitious and universal “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity” that represent a historic opportunity to advance the rights and well-being of children and safeguard life for future generations.
"As key stakeholders in this agenda, what we decide to do for children and how we engage them in building the future will ultimately determine whether we are successful in creating a more peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world," added Flowers.
UNICEF's report on climate change, Unless we act now – The impact of climate change on children, shows that 530 million children live in areas where floods are extremely likely to occur and 160 million in areas where drought severity is high or extremely high.
Climate change related droughts and floods can destroy water supplies, or leave them contaminated. A child deprived of adequate water and sanitation before a crisis will be more affected by a flood, drought, or severe storm, is less likely to recover quickly, and at even greater risk when faced with a subsequent crisis.This puts millions of children at risk of death and disease.
The Clipper Round the World Yacht Race is the longest non-professional boat race in the world. It has partnered with UNICEF to advocate for child related issues as 12 racing yachts, including a UNICEF team entry, makes its way to 14 ports across six continents throughout its eleven month circumnavigation. This is the sixth time that the race has stopped in Qingdao.
Guo Chuan competed in the Clipper 2005-06 Race and is China's most recognized sailor. He joined the event and reminded audiences of the wonders of the sea and his experiences sailing on oceans. Reflecting on his artic sailing mission, he said “On one hand in the past decade the rapid melting of the ice in the Artic, makes sailing there possible but on the other hand, it is a sign of global warming, that adds new challenges for the environments on which humans and animals rely on for their survival.” He hopes the younger generation can increase their awareness of environmental protection and act to address climate change and the impact on our collective future.
Young people including students from the Ocean University of China and the middle schools from Beijing and Qingdao shared their own views and experiences. Li Yanze, a 16-year-old boy from the High School Affiliated to Remin University of China, one of the Chinese young participants to the COP 21 conference in Paris, shared experiences of meeting with young people from other countries and working together to put the environment high on the agenda. Hu Shunyi, a 17-year-old girl from Qingdao No. 2 Middle School, announced a youth initiative calling for immediate actions to promote low-carbon lifestyle and save the ocean environment.
UNICEF works in some of the world's toughest places, to reach the world's most disadvantaged children. Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone. For more information about UNICEF and its work for children visit www.unicef.org.
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