Working with and for children and young people to make the world a better place
Climate Change response, Youth in Action
The climate crisis is a child rights crisis. Children are the least responsible for climate change, yet they will bear the greatest burden of its impact. But children aren’t just victims of climate change; they can be empowered to be part of the solution.
Children and young people can play a key role in addressing disaster risks, including those caused by climate change, and public health emergencies — such as the COVID-19 pandemic — by giving their views, opinions and concerns; by identifying and working on solutions; and by promoting environmentally sustainable lifestyles.
UNICEF is amplifying the voices of children and young people, to hear both their concerns and their ideas for dealing with one of the world’s greatest challenges. UNICEF is also calling for decision makers’ support for climate policies that are child sensitive.
Around 100 young advocates from African and Asian countries recently participated in the ‘Climate Innovation Network: Climate Change Response, Youth in Action’ roundtable.
Here is what some of them said:
We can start with ourselves, with small changes and working with the people around us.
“We have witnessed the challenges that climate change brings to the planet. We should apply our knowledge and skills to actively disseminate and advocate for environmental protection with vision, accountability and passion. It’s our duty to work together to promote green, low-carbon and sustainable development,” said Ou Zhiyang from China.
Young people should know that they can be part of change. While you are trying to solve the world’s biggest crisis, don’t forget to take a break, have fun and connect to nature.
“Climate change has no boundary. Yet young people are the ones whose lives will be impacted for a long time, and they are the ones who are facing the consequences of the decisions of today’s leaders and policy makers,” said Pramisha Thapaliya, a young climate and food systems advocate from Nepal.
She noted how education has enabled her to understand the root causes of climate change impacts, and how participating in grass-root activities has empowered her to work on solutions to climate change.
Mr. Li Yonghong, Deputy Director-General of Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center, Ministry of Ecology and Environment, China, said that the government expects young people to play an important role in global ecological governance and become promoters of global environmental solutions. Mr. Li also noted that ASEAN- China environmental and development officials, young scholars and students have long worked together on climate change and air quality management, the green economy, urban biodiversity and other related topics.
Outside the Asian region, Sarah Alharthey, Youth and Climate Advisor of the UNICEF Gulf Area Office, is working to map existing actors and change makers to try to understand their issues and struggles, as well as supporting young people in the Middle East to advance the climate agenda.
The participants adopted the ‘Climate Change Response: Youth in Actions’ Youth Pledge, which three youth from China, Vietnam and the Democratic Republic of the Congo read out.
The pledge calls for Asia-Africa environmental cooperation to empower children and ensure that the needs of children, young people and communities are met. It also calls for Asian and African young people to actively participate in developing climate-related strategies and promoting environmentally sustainable lifestyles.
The roundtable was co-hosted by the Foreign Environmental Cooperation Center of the Ministry of Ecology and Environment and the UNICEF China Office, led by Senior Advisor of Public Sector Partnerships, Sae-Ryo Kim. It was part of the 2022 ASEAN-China Environmental Cooperation Forum.